Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Mitchellin Man: Destroyer’s Favourite Albums

Before he releases his new album Poison Season later this month, Destroyer's Dan Bejar places a call to Merek Cooper to talk to him about saxophones, heroin and going through a seven-year Joni Mitchell phase

Photograph courtesy of Fabiola Carranza

If we just stopped to think about it for a second we’d realise Destroyer’s Dan Bejar is one of the finest singer-songwriters we have. Justly concerned about poetry’s place in pop music and aware of history and heritage, his last album, the New Age ambient-meets-Roxy Music outing Kaputt, finally gained him the kind of fawning attention his luxuriously upholstered music has always deserved.

The Canadian is back this month with a new record, his tenth, the ominously titled Poison Season. True to form he’s returning the same but different. You can’t mistake his precise vocal phrasing or his well-read playfulness, but there’s something new he’s toying with now. No Destroyer record is ever the same as the last and here the Vancouverite can be found teasing magic out of the darkness at the edge of a muscular Bruce Springsteen sound. Uptown blasts of saxophone mingle with his knowing, seen-it-all delivery and plush strings you can practically lay back on. It’s hard to remember the singer sounding so at home and confident in his abilities.

Poison Season is a mature record from an auteur songwriter closing in on his mid-40s and in love with the music of the 70s, and Bejar’s Baker’s Dozen reflects this. For example, the first six of his choices track his compatriot Joni Mitchell’s progress during that treacherous decade from rock radio darling to artistically isolated acquired-taste. A strange choice perhaps, but Destroyer’s groaning lyrical tapestries have always lingered long over the trials and tribulations of doomed goddesses and bereft heroines, both classical and contemporary. After all, if Bejar’s songs have taught us anything over the years, it’s that there’s nothing so beautiful as the myriad ways humans deal with the inevitable tragedy and farce of existence.

Poison Season is out on August 28 on Merge/Dead Oceans. Destroyer begin a world tour at Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR on September 18, with the UK dates starting at Islington Assembly Hall in London on October 30; for full details and tickets, head here

First Record

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