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Destroyer - We'll Build Them A Golden Bridge

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Artist: Destroyer

Album: We'll Build Them A Golden Bridge

Label: Scratch Recordings

Review date: Nov. 7, 2006

We’ll Build Them A Golden Bridge, recorded in 1995 and originally released in 1996, marks Dan Bejar’s debut as Destroyer. It’s essentially a solo project (no contributors are listed), with Bejar on acoustic and electric guitar, a cheap Yamaha synth, a tortured violin, and some half-heartedly beaten drums. DIY and lo-fi to the extreme, Bridge presents Bejar’s art in its most stripped-down form, but nonetheless sketches a clear outline for his more elaborate later work.

Despite the marked contrast in sound quality, Bridge is remarkably similar to Bejar’s later work. His gift for melody, wordplay and twisted song structure are all on full display here, albeit hidden behind an often-annoying build-up of extraneous noise. With the exception of a few “clean” performances, almost every track here is besmirched by unnecessary accoutrements: Bejar seems determined to use every preset on his synth (including the gunshot sound effects), and feature any odd instruments he might have on hand. This approach perhaps has something to do with a concerted effort to make the recording downright inconsumable; the guitars are always out of tune, and the vocals of Fisher-Price quality. “Static means punk / tuning is junk,” Bejar moans on one track, and it seems that his tongue is only partly in his cheek. It’s hard to see, however, what such an aesthetic can possibly add to the material, especially in light of his later recordings.

These poor “production decisions” aside, We’ll Build Them A Golden Bridge provides ample signs of Bejar’s talent. He’s already writing distinctive pop songs with the kind of (anti-)anthemic quality that would become his trademark, and goes a long way towards mastering the fine art of making ever opaque couplets sound like a profound poetic pronouncement. It’s easy to imagine the rough versions here as more fully developed arrangements, and indeed two of the album’s tracks were later covered by the New Pornographers: “Breakin’ the Law” on 2000’s Mass Romantic and “Streets of Fire” on 2005’s Twin Cinema. Dan Bejar’s talent seems to have emerged fully-formed, and as far as the quality of songwriting and uniqueness of musical vision is concerned, there’s surprisingly little distance between his debut and his more recent efforts.

By Michael Cramer

Other Reviews of Destroyer

This Night

Your Blues

Notorious Lightning and Other Works

Destroyer's Rubies

Trouble in Dreams

Streethawk: A Seduction / Thief / City of Daughters


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View all articles by Michael Cramer

Find out more about Scratch Recordings

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