Destroyer hit their best form for at least five years with their brand new, electrifying album, Labyrinthitis.
The erudite and deeply considered lyrics show the positive side of having so much spare time in the midst of the various Covid-19 lockdowns. Songwriter Dan Bejar spent the Covid-19 period over 2020-21 in Vancouver sending ideas periodically to frequent collaborator John Collins, who was isolating nearby on Galiano Island.
The new album draws on electronic influences from the late 1970s and ‘80s period of synth-pop and disco music, especially from the likes of New Order. “I think when we discovered, as per yoosh, that we weren’t going to be making a techno record, it wasn’t going to be sidelong Donna Summer style tracks, the idea then became — especially once John really started being inundated with bonafide music made by actual humans — to make the most disorienting record we could,” Bejar told BrooklynVegan in a recent interview. “It is relentlessly upbeat, compared to most Destroyer albums, especially compared to the one before it.”
The album weaves in and out of synthesised beats and strange texturing of instrumentals that should be out of place but actually work perfectly for the most part. The strange ideas come as a stark reflection of a mind in isolation and the delivery of the, at times, illusive lyrics appear reminiscent of Howard Devoto’s masterful wordsmithery in his work with post-punk group Magazine.
The album is punctuated by instrumental tracks such as the intro, ‘It’s In Your Heart Now’, and the entrancing title track ‘Labyrinthitis’. The highlight of the album comes in the form of ‘Tintoretto, It’s For You’, the most unconventional and enveloping of the ten tracks. The song references a 16th-century painter who was allegedly known for his “furious brushwork”. The exact coherence of the track appears to even escape Bejar, who explained that the track was something that vaguely poked fun at his youthful pretension: “a vague recollection of me throwing around Tintoretto as a painter I liked in my 20s, just such utter bullshit.”
Labyrinthitis follows Destroyer’s 2020 album Have We Met in a marked change in direction for the Vancouver rock group. The album is likely the most intriguing and strange for the group to date. Any album with a classy blend of the peculiar (‘Tintoretto, It’s For You’), the enveloping (‘Labrynthitis’), and the lively (‘Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread’) has a place in my collection.
Stream Destroyer’s Labrynthitis below.