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With his bruised vocals and acoustic guitar, Dan Bejar would’ve been “perfectly suited for a career in pretty soft rock, mid-1970s style,” said Jon Pareles in The New York Times. On 'Trouble in Dreams,' the 35-year-old songwriter, who records as Destroyer

Destroyer
Trouble in Dreams
(Merge)

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With his bruised vocals and acoustic guitar, Dan Bejar would’ve been “perfectly suited for a career in pretty soft rock, mid-1970s style,” said Jon Pareles in The New York Times. On Trouble in Dreams, the 35-year-old songwriter, who records as Destroyer, strums away and guides his nasal timbre through melodic loops and whorls. But, as on 2006’s Rubies, any “tranquility” is fleeting. Bejar’s anxieties creep in as he ruminates about war, terror, and those chronic rock ’n’ roll vices: drugs, alcohol, and sex. His lyrics, more abstruse than usual, “dive right into non sequiturs with their own compelling logic.” The music, too, takes its own course. “Rivers” unexpectedly picks up “post-punk agitation,” accented by Bejar’s adenoidal yelp. On “Foam Hands” and “My Favourite Year,” he lets “psychedelic jams loom out of piano ballads.” Songs like these help Bejar escape the nostalgia hovering over him, said Jess Harvell in The Washington Post. When he playfully fiddles with song structure, the “Summer of Love rainbow bubble” around him bursts and his music becomes “both wistful and outsized.” Esoteric and too often nonsensical, Trouble in Dreams illustrates “pretzel logic” only Bejar understands, said Marc Weingarten in Entertainment Weekly. Still, fans will revel in his aching “romanticism; he’s convincingly sensitive even at his most arch.”

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