Your Blues

BY Michael BarclayPublished Jan 1, 2006

Last time we checked in with Vancouver's Dan Bejar, you could hear his tormented rock 'n' roll dreams crashing all around him. And why wouldn't they — he'd already made the perfect rock album with 2001's Streethawk: A Seduction, which then unravelled into indulgence on 2002's messy Merge debut This Night, a textbook lesson on how to shit the bed on the eve of your coming-out party. Your Blues is the sound of Bejar picking up the pieces by relying solely on his longstanding production team JC/DC to handle keyboards (one Roland, one Kurzweil, to be exact) that sound suspiciously like the Pet Shop Boys robbed of their precious drum machines. In fact, there's barely any percussion here at all, sending Bejar on a detour into new wave chamber pop, leaving his penchant for subverting classic rock far behind. Instead of chiming guitars, now the synthetic strings summarize his taste for bombast — Procol Harum with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, anyone? And if his songwriting got downright lazy last time out, Bejar is back in full form on Your Blues, gloriously melodic, equally whimsical and accusatory, even occasionally defensive: arguably he's targeting his critics when he sings, "Your backlash was right where I wanted you!" Yet he's not above the occasional wink, like how the opening melody of "New Ways of Living" rips directly from Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind" also covered by the equally nasal Pet Shop Boys, come to think of it, making that two PSB references in one Destroyer review. What's next, "West Van Girls?"

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