DESTROYER Destroyer’s Rubies (Merge)

Destroyer is the main outlet for the talents of Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Daniel Bejar (he’s also a member of indie supergroups The New Pornographers and Swan Lake); as the cover sticker helpfully clarifies, “Destroyer is a band. This is the new Destroyer album.”.

Straying from the facts, or maybe not, it’s also brilliant. Ramshackle, like Pavement backing Neil Young, it’s also clever, in a good way, the lyrics either tightly knitted together with conceptual continuity or a post-modern spin on the delicious nonsense Dylan was spouting round about “Blonde On Blonde”. Test drive the de facto nine minute title track “Rubies” to see what I mean: it’ll either register as pretentious claptrap or an absurdly exhilarating freefall through rock history. It’s a rare album that gets me grinning within seconds of first hearing it, but “Destroyer’s Rubies” plays like a thrilling jousting match from the off. Bejar doesn’t shy away from gently ribbing the hipper-than-thou community he might be presumed to be a part of (“It’s just your precious American Underground/And it is born of wealth”), and how can any one of us fail to fall for the line “Those who love Zeppelin will soon betray Floyd”? “Watercolours Into The Ocean”’s opening salvo “Listening to “Strawberry Wine” for the 131st time, it was 1987” gets me thinking that Destroyer’s music is the sound of The Band carousing with Talking Heads. Built from standard issue rock ‘n’ roll instrumentation, its sonic honesty and wonderfully deep, liquid production sugar the album’s more obtuse and abstract moments.

If the remaining nine tracks are inevitably destined to be relegated to footnote status trailing the sustained outpouring of molten genius that constitutes “Rubies”, they’re entertaining enough with it, from the swinging “Your Blood” (“I went for you in military times and, then, I waited well into the 2300s”) to “3000 Flowers”, its guitar sound so textured you can practically taste it. It’s a rare album that’s so consistently intellectually and musically nourishing – Joanna Newsom’s “Ys” and Sufjan Stevens’ “Illinois” are perhaps its only recent peers in that regard - and if you like your indie guitar rock twisted with wicked, lacerating humour it’s Bejar’s bandwagon you should be chasing.