Album: LABYRINTHITIS Artist: Destroyer Genre: #artrock #synthpop Sub-Genres: #sophistipop #newWave Label: Merge Everyone’s favorite Canadian sophisti-pop/art-rock band returns once again with their 13th album, LABYRINTHITIS.
The lead singer and main creative mind of the band, Dan Bejar, said in multiple interviews the creative process in making this album was trying to make music while ignoring the fundamentals of music making. That seems fun! And it resulted in a pretty great album.
The opener, “It’s In Your Heart Now” is my favorite track off the album. It’s probably one of my favorite songs I’ve heard this year. The instrumentation is maybe the closest Destroyer has ever gotten to dream pop and it really works with the vague and poetic lyrics Dan wrote for this song. When I listen to it, I feel calmed. It is nice. If you’re going to listen to any song off of this album, make sure it’s this one. Continuing in the vein of calm tracks on this album, the 9th song, “The States” has a similar effect on me. It’s nice to listen to. I also really appreciate its narrative and structure. In an interview, Dan says he wrote the track to his younger self and the lyrics detail someone who seems to be lost in the world. I found it to be genuinely touching. Also, the structure of the song makes it quite fun to listen to. For the first 4 minutes, you’re getting what sounds like a muted New Order song then for the last 3 minutes you get what sounds like an early 2000s Tim Hecker track. The ambient piece at the end helps communicate the song’s idea of being lost.
Of course, it’s not always a good idea to put an ambient piece on a pop album. The title track, “Labyrinthitis” doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the songs on here. It’s entirely an ambient song and features a baby beatboxing at you. It’s not a track for me. Also, since I’m being negative I’ll talk about the rest of the songs I didn’t like. “Suffer” is a shorter and less interesting version of “It’s In Your Heart Now.” While they cover different lyrical topics, both have vague lyrics and similar structures. I definitely prefer one to the other.
The wacky structures of these songs sometimes works against the songs themselves. The 4th song, “All My Pretty Dresses” features what can most accurately be described as a smooth jazz jam session. Which doesn’t make any sense as a sentence. I can’t say I enjoyed that track even though many people probably would. The last song I didn’t like is actually called “The Last Song.” It seemed unfinished and like it could have been fleshed out a bit more. Great lyrics though.
And speaking of the lyrics this album has a lot of great lines. “June” probably has my favorite lyrics.
“A snow angel's a fucking idiot somebody made
A fucking idiot someone made in the snow”
Dan Bejar vs. snow angels when?? Also, “You have to look at it from all angles, Says the cubist judge from cubist jail” makes me have deep anxiety about being put in cubist jail by a cubist judge who’s really into puns. También, the song’s structure is insane too. It starts with 80s smooth soul grooves and by the end has transformed into a glitch-rap song. Rad.
More wacky song structures abound. “It Takes a Thief” is mostly very good indie rock but also features a scat break and horn sections. I guess Beirut with scatting? Good song though. “Tintoretto, It’s For You” is at first just a regular song but when Tintoretto is told he needs to answer the phone the song turns into a song from the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. This is the eeriest track on the album and one of my favorites. “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread'' is another song about being confused and lost. As with many of the other songs, it has great lyrics.
“I piss on the floor, the band sets up on the floor
I piss on the floorboards, the whole world’s a stage”
That's the stare of someone who totally pisses on the floor. Okay to be fair, great may not be the correct word for the piss lyrics. Funny?
“I don't know
Where I'm going
It's insane in here, it's lunacy out there
And everything you just said
Was better left unsaid”
These are just a total vibe.
Overall, I really enjoyed listening to this. Dan Bejar is an always interesting lyricist and a very entertaining vocalist. His intonations can sell a track and some of these lyrics will be stuck in your head for at least a couple of days. The instrumentation on the album is varied and the structures are insane. My main issue would be that sometimes when you’re throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, some things don’t stick. Some songs seem underdone or don’t make sense when everything is out together. But still, most of the risks paid off and this is one of Destroyer’s better albums they’ve ever released.
8/10 Sounds Like: Really tough to come up with comparisons and these may not be accurate.
More interesting Prefab Sprout
Less psychedelic Of Montreal
If mid-60s Bob Dylan was more chill and had a synthpop band
It's in Your Heart Now
Tintoretto, It's for You
Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread Reviewer's Name: Luke Wise Date of Review: 04/10/22