"Ok fine, even the sky looks like wine/And everywhere I turn there's/a new face in time, stuck inside the well..." Daniel Bejar drawls in a weary voice.
Well, that doesn't exactly wear off quickly. Destroyer's eighth album -- or maybe its tenth, I'm not sure -- is full of reflections to those who "live in darkness" and think "light is a dream." But "Trouble in Dreams" definitely transcends its rambling poetry with full-bodied, expansive instrumentation -- think a shoegaze orchestra.
It opens with a bittersweetly folky ode to... not sure. Maybe it's infidelity: "Blue Flower Blue Flame,/a woman by another name is not a woman/I'll tell you what I mean by that, maybe not in ten seconds flat, maybe never..." Bejar sings over a piano and guitar.
It's followed by the far more uptempo, angular rock'n'roll of "Dark Leaves Form a Thread" and the blurry, bassy "The State." But then they embrace a stranger, more distant kind of music -- quirky melodies infused with organ, shoegazey rockers, rambling folky rock, stretches of fuzzy balladry, and the exquisitely shifting dark expanses of "Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night's Ape)."
Though it sounds much like a continuation of Destroyer's last album, "Trouble in Dreams" is a bit of a contradiction at times. Bejar has solidified Destroyer into a permanent lineup, meaning that the sound is much fuller, lusher and clearer than in Destroyer's days as a shifting (or even one-man) band. But on the other hand, the music is even stranger -- and at times, fuller of distortion -- than ever before.
And that new fullness of sound suits the music well -- swirling shoegazer melodies spiked with sharp riffs, buzzy basslines, piano and carpets of colourful keyboard. Some of the melodies are whittled down to a more bare-bones lineup, with lots of guitar, bass and sharp drums... I have to admit, a couple of these sound too demoesque to really fit in. But at least Destroyer somehow melts some extra complexity into those with a bit of distorted guitar, sometimes with an undercurrent of keyboard.
In the middle of all this, Bejar might have gotten lost if he didn't have that penetrating, somewhat drawly voice. He rambles through the album like a self-reflecting poet, dropping vivid phrases ("Sipping sherry branded by moonlight") and dark, rather enigmatic reflections on the world ("It's a terrible feast we've been stuffing our faces on/A terrible breeze from the east coming on/Bearing the scent of our one hundred first kills...")
"Trouble in Dreams" refers constantly to both trouble and dreams, and its rambling poetry and lush instrumentation show Destroyer off in good form. And it only promises more in the future.