by carl wilson

Duelling Cyclones Jacknife


As the Feb. 21 date for Destroyer's Rubies draws near, the blogosphere gets more het' up on it: First check out the debate over on Popsheep on D's Rs as simulacrum-and-transcendence-of-Greatest-Hits-comp, and then Jenny's comments (she claims to agree completely, but in fact she disagrees?), and finally refer back to the fresh Sixeyes interview with the man himself, on "driving through yellow lights" as artistic method, and band as "mangler."

I'd comment but I'm a little nervous at this rate that D's Rs is going to be rendered into iPop (no, not this kind), except that when the poor writer whose music collection crashed on him gives the Arctic Monkeys as a prime example of "massive internet hype and fuck all real-world impact," while ignoring that little detail about their being the fastest-selling UK debut ever, it's clear that what he means by iPop is "things you downloaded that you personally discover you don't actually like that much." Which is a lot less scary. (The real lesson, as usual, is: Take good care of those you love. Which in this case means "back up your files.")

So let's return to the main event, which is that Merge is now streaming a full preview of Destroyer's Rubies. (Thanks Ryan.) And for the truly obsessed there is the new Wiki. But keep away from the ILM thread. It gets ugly in there.

(Postscript: I'm comparing what Simon says about the Arctic Monkeys partway thru this post with what I think about Destroyer - definitely the image of an inbred mutt that turns out improbably to be an attack dog resonates, and Dan's vocals similarly are better if you look at them as similar to rap "flow" rather than singing, but without what Simon would think of us as the crucial regional element; he wouldn't count west-coast Canadian. Also, obvs Destroyer faces the rock-is-obsolete problem more head-on... Added: Simon quotes K-Punk as saying, "What Pop lacks now is the capacity for nihilation, for producing new potentials through the negation of what already exists.” Which is what Destroyer's quite explicitly about, albeit with built-in scepticism toward the possibility of success, which self-fulfillingly makes it not-Pop.)

| Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, February 08 at 11:17 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (11)



YHufLFnJVh, that's all well and good, but what does any of it have to do with Destroyer?

Posted by Canadian Bystander on February 14, 2006 9:20 AM



I think Rubies is a great album, and I enjoy listening to it very much.

Posted by ryan on February 9, 2006 10:41 AM



The redeeming factor in this debate over Destroyer's Rubies is that most people are not going to decide on what they think about the ablum based on threads in the comment section of obscure blogs and discussion boards. They are going to hear the album and (maybe) like it.

In an attempt at clarification: all I really meant to do with my review was explain why the Destroyer album was good, perhaps better than the last three. In terms of the encompassing/transcending dichotomy, I think it's probably unnecessary given the song by song nature of the album. One could easily say that there are moments of transcendence amidst an album that generally encompasses what destroyer fans like about Destroyer. Whether or not that means the album is better than than, say, streethawk or city of daughters is perhaps irrelevant. My own favourite albums, at least, are almost never the "best" album because sentimental attachment always trumps technical achievement or the opinions of rock critics.

Posted by ian on February 9, 2006 10:04 AM



Forget it - a bit of early-morning spleen, that's all.

Posted by Canadian Bystander on February 9, 2006 9:18 AM



in what world do you live that this is the only record people are talking about?

Posted by sean on February 9, 2006 9:00 AM



Jeez, guys, rent a room - is there really nothing more happening in music than a new album of West coast undergraduate quirk-folk?

(Yes, I'm being deliberately provocative, and I know you don't own nobody nothin', Carl, but the Destroyer thing is getting a little creepy, especially for those of us who find the guy way too precious.)

Posted by Canadian Bystander on February 9, 2006 8:00 AM



I'm a little weirded out by how so much of the Destroyer discussion has been framed in terms of "break-out potential", since obviously it's not going to break out. (See: The ILM thread's weird discussion of predicted sales figures.) (And I don't mean you, Carl.) It does speak to the stature Bejar's gained in the past few years, and of the way that many peoples' enjoyment of Bejar was muffled by their difficulty with Your Blues.

The downside to this rise in stature is that it's a little too easy to say that this is -just- a matter of Bejar's time finally having come. And that's really frustrating. I think D's R is a fantastic record and as an album, I enjoy it miles more than any previous outing. If a small group of critics are going abuzz over the thing, it certainly has more to do with the excellence of the record than the long tail of Bejar's career. So, yeah: transcendence.

Finally, a word on Your Blues. It too has great songs, but the synth thing is so scary for indie-rock listeners like me: so much of an obstacle. (And really that's the point.) For that reason alone, it could never be a consensus pick. In terms of Destroyer's career, I think one of the biggest disappointments was that the Notorious Lightning EP, basically Your-Blues-but-indie-rock, was so (obv imho) mediocre. I like Frog Eyes and loved the FE+D tour, but that recording didn't capture the dazzle of the collaboration at -all-. Which makes Rubies Destroyer's first great indie -rock- album.

Posted by Sean on February 9, 2006 4:52 AM



PS: I don't at all mean to rule out having other favourites, often brought about by the classic case of first-discovery love. I'll always have a special affection for City of Daughters, but there's a power here that just wasn't found there, or to my ears on Streethawk (though there are songs there that rival any of the ones here, for sure). For that matter, I still sometimes think Your Blues is the better album - "why rock?" remains a pertinent question.

Disclaimer: We totally sound like Yankees fans debating the glories of particular bygone seasons.

Posted by zoilus on February 9, 2006 1:59 AM



Well, I was thinking of the extensions in the comments where Sean remarked, " the scope of Destroyer’s Rubies is on another order of magnitude. I agree about the way that this record exemplifies Bejar’s work, but in some ways it also feels like the platonic ideal that he sensed, elsewhere, but did not have the chops, inspiration (or balls?) to record. I don’t think Destroyer’s Rubies sums up his career – I think it elevates it."

And Ian said: "I kind of agree, but I think that some greatest hits albums do elevate more than summarize by distilling someone's musical output into its purest form. I'm particularly thinking Neil Young's Decade, or maybe Leonard Cohen's first greatest hits comp. But not to get too caught up in my own critical wankery, I think that you are right. Song's like Rubies and European Oils perhaps surpass anything done previously by achieving a kind of subdued grandiosity."

So I'd read that as encompassing-*and*-transcending. But I never meant "breakthrough" in any way except pragmatically, to a wider audience.

Posted by zoilus on February 9, 2006 1:52 AM



Short version: I didn't read Ian's post as putting forth Rubies-as-transcendent.

Posted by jennifer on February 9, 2006 12:07 AM



I agree with Ian's idea of Rubies as a musical collage of some of Destroyer's most successful moments. And as a distilled/transformed "greatest hits" (vs. "breakthrough"), Rubies is, well, pretty great. I don't think that Ian was implying that Rubies surpasses any one album or another (or that it doesn't), but that it's what we were hoping for, what "had been promised by critics following the almost flawless Streethawk." I guess I was just adding (in my post) that I still respond more to Streethawk, in particular, because to me, it is, precisely, UNdistilled Destroyer. At the same time, my response may be largely an artefact of the particular moment in time at which I unearthed Streethawk, all the circumstances, all the people that were present, the weather that spring. That all of that is inevitably swirled up in my subjective response to an album is (to me) the very magic of music and lyrics and Destroyer's music and lyrics, or anything else that inspires.

Posted by jennifer on February 8, 2006 11:46 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson