Destroyer’s Dan Bejar is one of the most distinctive singer-songwriters of the last 10 years, and latest single Crimson Tide catches him in solid form.
Lifted from his upcoming 13th album as Destroyer – Have We Met out January 31 – melodically the song is idiosyncratic, with an off-kilter vocal paired against a soaring instrumental. Bejar intentionally speed-clusters his words around the end of verses as if running out of breath, or just trying to get the thought out as quickly as possible before he embarrasses himself. The instrumental itself is a fascinating grab-bag, not adhering to any particular style. Slap-back bass, ambient synths, sustained piano notes, screeching 80s guitar and sequencers are all part of a simultaneously sumptuous and retro sound, closest to late 90s electronica pop if anything.
In other words, this is standard fare for a Destroyer track, which is to say it’s equal parts head-scratching and affecting. The latter task is generally handled by Bejar’s lyrics, so are they up to snuff? Certainly so. Bejar specialises in abstract poetry: fans of late-60s Dylan huddle around. An undercurrent of existential despair runs throughout the track. It seems a loose narrative of a man coming to terms with himself and past transgressions, yet still remaining hopelessly cynical and pessimistic about the world.
What’s most important is that it’s an excuse for Bejar to run us through some great imagery. “She says ‘Get into the zone’/ The zone is brimstone and wire/ You open your mouth/ To watch your teeth shudder/ At the mirror/ At the clutter/ Crimson tide”. These lines are emblematic of the whole song, a puzzle you’ll want to dive into even if you never put it together.