A jolly submission to the troubles of the middle age echoes in the poesy of Dan Bejar’s latest work of despair. From the droning synth work that opens the album, it seems Bejar has finally accepted the fact that he’ll never be able to escape the limitations enforced upon him by his deteriorating body and aging soul; a conclusion that ironically leads him to revel in the fragility of his current condition. Unlike “Kaputt,” “Poison Season” or “Ken,” it seems Bejar is done with spewing wistfully mournful philosophy, instead using the ruggedness of his voice to deliver cerebral narratives that delight in that which is beautifully mundane. This is an album from a man who once stated “Sing the least poetic thing you can think of and try to make it sound beautiful,” a credo he devoutly sticks to with “Have We Met,” a tenet that allows him to materialize one of the most fluent and imaginative albums this year has had to offer thus far.
Formulated in flowery lyricism that’s jarringly combined with unannounced cursing, Bejar’s surrealistic song construction works in a manner akin to that of the Arctic Monkeys’ most recent releases. Much like Alex Turner’s pen, Dan Bejar’s lyricism emits the drunken wizardry of cafe-bound artists trying to etch new philosophies. Patterned in haiku-esque formats, stanzas like “The idea of the world is no good / The terrain is no good / The sea’s blasted poem / A twinkle in the guitar player’s eye” evoke imagery the modern music world is typically devoid of. It’s the language of literature for the discos — a deconstruction of hierarchical artistic palettes that anyone can listen to at any given time!
Managing to meld intellectualism with groovy tunes, Bejar is also able to hide veritable emotional exploration underneath seemingly upbeat rhythms. Lines like “I find the silence unbearable / What does that say about the silence?” seemingly wouldn’t fit on the album’s most danceable song and yet they do. There’s something about Bejar’s sonorous singing that makes the tonal clash work, allowing each and every song on the album to play out like an emotional game of cat-and-mouse between his voice’s introspection and his beat’s blissful ignorance of it.
Despite his middle-aged weariness, Bejar seems happier than ever. Finally finding a way to inject his downcast contemplation with buoyant optimism, “Have We Met” stands as Destroyer’s most affable album. It’s a work etched in despair that sonically screams happiness, the conclusive chapter of Bejar’s age-old mulling over unhappiness finally allowing him to smile after a decade of sadness.
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