Prior to this release, I was only familiar with Dan Bejar through the New Pornographers. To me his contributions there, while lyrically and musically interesting, seemed a bit distractive vocally. In Destroyer, Bejar is in his own element and has developed his own style. In this setting, we get a complete set of songs that are not in competition with other songwriters and singers. On Destroyer's Rubies, this focused attention reveals much complexity and range. The song arrangements couldn't be better. Some are minimally orchestrated, some have horns, most have piano, organ and rhodes-like keyboards, but all arrangements seem to achieve the songs' greatest potential. Bejar touches on musical styles as diverse as Motown ("Dangerous Woman..."), hippie classic rock a la Deja Vu-era CSNY ("Sick Priest Learns..."), power pop ("3000 Flowers"), and the indie rock of Pavement/Malkmus ("Your Blood" and "Priest's Knees").
Admittedly, Bejar's singing is not for everyone. It wasn't for me initially - but I'm among the converted now. His vocal delivery is kinda half spoken, half sung as Dylan or Lou Reed tends to be; Bejar is perhaps more over the top in his articulation and emotion. Besides his vocal delivery, the tone and quality of his voice is somewhat like Bowie's. I would think most readers who ended up here are open minded enough to get over any initial objections to the vocals. There is too much to like to dismiss it on vocals alone.
The lyrics are weird, ambiguous, and clever. Bejar slyly borrows many lyrical phrases and titles from other artists and puts them into a different melody and context. With almost each new listen, I discover new references and quotations. (he name checks Proud Mary, refers to a golden slumber, uses "I couldn't bare to..." which is an apparent reference to "Awful Bliss" by GBV, cops "Oh life is bigger.." from "Losing My Religion", and sings "kids...they were all right", a reference to The Who). I'm sure there are many more.
As other reviewers have speculated, I predict this CD will be on many "Best of 2006" lists. Highly Recommended.