Destroyer's Rubies is a drunken sprawl of grand and revelatory indie-rock, schizophrenic and more than a little unstable. When Dan Bejar isn't playing the deranged uncle to the sugar-fuelled **New Pornographers** family, he's crafting this - this warm, theatrical wonder with a thousand dimensions - and it's very, very special.
It's impressive just how accessible this record is, especially considering it begins with 9 minute song. Bejar's work is idiosyncratic to a fault and perhaps a little difficult to digest easily for a first-timer, but here all the idiosyncrasies (those nasal Bowie-esque pipes, references to previous albums/songs/lyrics, frequent 'la-la-la' odysseys, use of a woman's name etc.) are so neatly and succinctly presented within such rich songs that they become easy to appreciate. _'Rubies'_, the aforementioned 9 minute opener, lurches awkwardly with distorted riffing before Bejar begins his delicate tightrope walk of low whining guitar, steadily marching snares and frenetic percussion. Then the graceful descent, both serene and abrasive - guitar, voice and silence. It's tangible and delicate and threatens to fall to pieces at every crescendo. This balance between the delicate and the monolithic is a running theme that rears its head next in the lavish _'European Oils'_. Ted Bois' recurring resplendent piano filters through dense vocal walls while a dangerously proggish solo bounds over it all - the whole song soars and descends with grace, and it's taking you with it.
Don't be fooled into thinking that Destroyer can't play a pop song, though. However skewed, some of the strongest songs on Destroyer's Rubies are the more succinct among the tracklisting. _'Painter In Your Pocket'_ begins with bare melody and hollow drums before it bursts into a gloriously sunny finale while 'Priest's Knees'_ is a pounding 3 minute joy once again underscored by Bois' beatific piano, both tracks greatly recalling Terror Twilight era Pavement. There's a certain lyrical obscurity also shared with Stephen Malkmus in the references and tone, but unlike Malkmus, Bejar doesn't exude such a pompous air, even if the questionable '3000 Flowers' edges close to an aimless, pretentious jam. The lounging 'Looter's Follies' is another joyous high, with its piano-led stop-starts and general disarray. Perhaps the only unfortunate choice is to end such a huge album with the bar room jam 'Sick Priest Learns To Last Forever' - however likeable it is, it feels like a overtly tongue-in-cheek end to such a grand, visceral album.
Destroyer's Rubies is an inadvertent Guide To Destroyer - every defining quirk, every 70's pop nod and ill-advised but forgivable falsetto is condensed and framed, only without becoming something fans of Bejar will have all heard before. This is a way in, an entrance to one of Canada's more curiously idiosyncratic artists and it has essential written all over it.
8Jesus Chigley's Score