The eighth Destroyer album is a revelation on a couple of fronts. First, it’s hard to argue with the fact that, at least for the time being, Dan Bejar is writing stronger melodies than his New Pornographers cohort Carl Newman. Second, after six or seven years of listening to his unconventional but oddly familiar vocal stylings, Trouble in Dreams finally helped me realize that Bejar sounds exactly like a cross between Robyn Hitchcock and Grover from Sesame Street.
Trouble in Dreams picks up where 2006’s Rubies left off, with Bejar testing out his tried and true weirdo storytelling approach in increasingly catchy, slickly produced environs. In fact, the Hitchcock similarities probably came to light in large part because of the ’80s-tinged psych-pop of tracks like “Dark Leaves Form a Thread” and “My Favorite Year.” Other times, though, the retro piano ballads start to sound considerably more mainstream, like a slowed-down Dire Straits (“Foam Hands”) or even Bruce Hornsby and the Range (“Introducing Angels”). If Bejar weren’t such an intriguing little Muppet, it might all be too much. But he’s still one of the best wordsmiths out there, and he’s made it clear yet again: Destroyer is not his “other” band.