Destroyer is a Vancouver band, the main project and brainchild of its lead singer, songwriter, and mastermind frontman Dan Bejar. He founded the band in 1995 as its only member, and released the lo-fi, relatively folksy, drunken and disoriented debut album We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge in 1996. Bejar is the only credited musician on the album, recorded at his home studio. Gradually though the 1990s Destroyer began adding members and formally becoming a band.
In 2000, Bejar disbanded Destroyer and took a break from professional musicianship, taking an extended vacation in Spain. Later in the same year, Bejar would return and record Thief with John Collins and the rest of the session musicians he'd recorded City of Daughters with in 1998. The band has endured several lineup changes, as bands will tend to do when led by a perfectionist control-freak-genius. But Bejar stated that he intends the lineup which Destroyer recorded 2006's Destroyer's Rubies with to be the lineup for the duration of the band's existence. In 2010, Bejar wrote a piece for Destroyer's 2011 album Kaputt with artist Kara Walker. It is a spacey, existentially frustrated epic called "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker," and is definitely the best song of 2011, from almost the best album of 2011.
2001's Streethawk is generally seen as the band's major turning point, and a discovery of their cabaret pop identity. It's a seething, socio-politically saturated album, and is very much a clean, meticulous hi-fi record, in stark contrast to the first album. The arrangements on Destroyer's records slowly became more layered and elaborate through the 21st century, eventually becoming very ornate. The arrangements are usually a veritable kaleidoscope, unpredictably mixing acoustic instruments, rock instrumentation, orchestral instruments, and midi instruments. The music is messy, but tonally progressive and listenable, if a little scatterbrained and unexpected. The band is largely an extension of Pavement's greatest moment, only without the drug culture.
The lyrics are self-effacing, observational, and nasty-realism, once again borrowing from the Guided By Voices, Neutral Milk Hotel, Pavement American 1990s musical influence. There's no reliable way to describe the effect, even just by reprinting the lyrics without the music, so I won't try. Because music is performance, of course, and inherently demonstrative. So, like all art analysis and appreciation, your greatest weapon is the most obvious one - the natural senses. So if you'd like to understand something as weird as Destroyer and the mind of its own, listen. Listen actively, but listen patiently. Most good modern music are very much like penises. There are growers, and there are showers. Destroyer is very much a grower. Give it second and third chances if and when you don't understand it upon first impression. Start with Rubies or Streethawk, then build your way up to Kaputt. It's the most important, but not an easy point of entry. Be generous, and try to be okay with the fact that it will catch you off guard.
As I listen more and more, it seems like that's the point.
Discography as of this writeup:
We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge; Tinker, 1996/Scratch, 2006
Ideas For Songs (Initially a cassette tape release only); Granted Passage Cassettes, 1996/Triple Crown Recordings of Canada (formerly Granted Passage Cassettes), 2011
City of Daughters; Triple Crown Audio/Endearing; 1998
Thief; Catsup Plate; 2000
Streethawk: A Seduction; Misra/Talitres (Europe); 2001
This Night; Merge/Talitres; 2002
Your Blues; Merge/Talitres; 2004
Notorious Lightning and Other Works; Merge; 2005
Destroyer's Rubies; Merge; 2006
Loscil's Rubies; Scratch; 2006
Trouble in Dreams; Merge/Rough Trade (Europe); 2008
Bay of Pigs; Merge; 2009
Archer on the Beach; Merge; 2010
Kaputt; Merge; 2011
Variations EP; Elektrax; 2013
Featured in a hell of a lot of compilations, tributes, remix albums, cover albums, various artists albums, etc. See Spotify>>Destroyer>>"Appears On" section.
Merge Records biography
No official website exists as of this writeup
And goddamn your eyes
They just had to be twin prizes
Waiting for the sun
So I lied.