Dan Bejar's thirteenth outing as Destroyer finds him pestering Italian renaissance artists and tipping his cap to Mark E. Smith, finds Mick Middles

Labyrinthitis is an ear infection causing dizziness. Three tracks into this – astonishingly, Destroyer’s thirteenth album – and the title begins to make sense. It is certainly a dizzyingly contagious collection of songs that benefit from main man Dan Bejar’s scattergun technique of song selection. Not for him, the smooth transition from song to song, building neatly to a gentle climax. It is in his blood to unhinge the casual listener and provide a shifting backdrop for his lively lyricism.

Some of the time-honoured influences remain firmly in place. New Order’s gentle haunting frequently makes an unworldly appearance. Never is this more obvious than on the opening, ‘It’s in Your Heart Now’, a seven-minute agreeable meander that moves towards a climax in the final ninety seconds. A song that carries noticeable traces of ‘Your Silent Face’ delivering you firmly into the core of this playful collection. Track two, ‘Suffer’ might appear from a different planet, let alone genre, given its thunderous percussion, heady swaying rhythm and devilishly playful vocal style which builds from Bejar’s now time-honoured vocal gymnastics.

Edging through the songs, it becomes obvious that the one defining constant here is a comforting bed of disco and P-funk, serving to gently tug the listener back to familiarity, low end echoes of an easier historical space, perhaps. Naturally, Bejar battles constantly against this. The spoken word semi-rap outing of ‘June’ rambles on intriguingly for six minutes, referencing The Doors’ ‘An American Prayer’. In many places, the singer uses a similar lyrical technique to one of his obvious influences, Mark E. Smith. Smith’s lyrics were so often scribbled on the back of beermats. He suggested this kept the lines succinct… sharp. There is even a passing reference to The Fall’s early classic travelogue, ‘C’n’C_S Mithering’ with its reference to “striking for more pay”. I can’t imagine Bejar understands the brusk northern vernacular of the phrase ‘Stop mithering’, but I am impressed by his distant Fall knowledge.

By contrast, the first single from the album, ‘Tintoretto, It’s For You’ is an eerie, sinister disco romp topped by vocals in the style of Tom Waits and Marlene Dietrich, ironically pinning this down as a classic Destroyer album by the sheer scope and audacity of those ghostly influences. “Tintoretto, it’s for you, the ceiling’s on fire and the contract is binding”, he wryly intones, rasping heavily through that Waits-like throaty fog. An odd choice for a single, as it is the only song on the album that purposely steps away from shadows of Chic and Moroder. That is the true paradox of Destroyer. A disco thump forged in the grottiest of punk venues. A band with a rockist name who seem destined to battle against guitar slashing cliché. Simple in attack, complex in lyrical vision.

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