Destroyer’s Ken simplifies symbolism with similes and simpering | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Destroyer’s Ken simplifies symbolism with similes and simpering 

click to enlarge Destroyer



Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer, is well-known for being a “literary” act. The description is fitting: front man Dan Bejar’s lyrics feel like symbolist poetry, with lines of varying lengths crammed with allusions to history, film, and—especially—pop music stacked on top of each other like records in a wobbling tower. Furthermore, Destroyer albums tend to commit to a single style, such as cheesy MIDI-pop on Your Blues (2004) and late-70s Al Stewart LPs on Kaputt (2011), so that each one is distinct from the others; listening to them in succession actually seems like reading different volumes in a set of books. On Destroyer’s 11th full-length, last year’s Ken (Merge), Bejar goes for a more primal approach, though characteristically he twists the meaning of “primal” into something craftier than the most obvious definition; in this case, a reflection on the music he first felt an attachment to in high school. The instrumentation and melodies reference Bejar’s teenage tastes for late-80s Manchester indie rock, the Cure, and synth-pop, but his words are as beguiling and ambiguous as they’ve ever been in his adulthood. From standout track “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”: “Tinsel ribbons dancing in the rain / Flowers on the skyline, hey how was the wine? / What comes round’s going round again / Towers coming up for air.”   v

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
July 15
Galleries & Museums
May 28

Popular Stories