Trouble in Dreams(Merge)

“Arch,” “grandiose,” and “affected” are terms used by some music critics to condemn rock records, but Dan Bejar embraces these descriptors as positive attributes. As Destroyer, his vocals are often melodramatic and self-satisfied: Think David Bowie, Suede, and Robyn Hitchcock at their fullest-of-themselves. Sample song-title: “Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night's Ape).” Oh, jeez! Why then is Trouble in Dreams so darn enjoyable? Perhaps because Bejar is the William Shatner of indie rock — he's way over the top, but just self-aware enough to make it fun. He relishes self-righteous anger (“I've been living in America in churches of greed/It's sick!” from “Dark Leaves Form a Thread”) and purple whimsy (“I gave you a flower because foxes travel light and a penny for your thoughts was never enough” from “Blue Flower/Blue Flame”). Musically, Bejar's bittersweet melodies are orchestrated with crystalline guitars, billowing synthesizers, world-weary tempos, gauzy production, and melancholy ambiance. This, along with his gift for overstated poignancy, makes Destroyer a pleasure for lovers of precocious pop: a guilty one, but a pleasure nonetheless.

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