Destroyer – El Rito

The ever-puzzling Dan Bejar’s new Spanish-language direction. Just add glam stomping.

Destroyer – El Rito

DESTROYER’S DAN BEJAR: now here’s a guy who hates to swim with the tide. On his brilliant – some would say career-apotheosis – 2011 album, Kaputt, the sometime New Pornographer overturned his historically exasperating MO to craft a beautiful set of songs steeped in retrospective melancholy and quicksilver ’80s sounds. Prefab Sprout, New Order, Avalon and David Sylvian looked like signposts to a future of increasing popularity and sales.

Now the world’s gone ’80s mad is Vancouver’s Bejar cashing in? Not on your nelly. Instead he’s lashed a stomping glam/Velvets beat around a song written by Antonio Luque, a kind of indie-rocking Andalucian Wayne Coyne, and recorded an EP of same, all in Spanish, entitled Five Spanish Songs. Perhaps even more surprising than all of that, it’s brilliant.

But what sent the linguistically schizo Bejar down this path of homage? Well, there’s a statement…

“It was 2013. The English language seemed spent, despicable, not easily singable,” he relates. “It felt over for English; good for business transactions, but that’s about it. The only other language I know is Spanish, and the only Spanish songs I really know are those of Sr. Chinarro, led by Antonio Luque. I’ve been a decades-long fan of how he conducted his affairs, his strange words, his melodies that have always felt so natural (this is important), his bitter songs about painting the light.”

A relative of Bejar’s is a musical associate of Luque. Meanwhile, Sr. Chinarro (trans. Mr Chinarro) appears to have a mythology all his own, related in a crazy and prolix biog on the group’s web site. It’s worth reading, especially via the ever-off-kilter Google Translate, viz

“…I liked to improvise derangements with electric guitar and instruct the rhythm, ie turn riding song. How simple is now with tablets. To write sounds easier than it is...”

It knocks the crap out of Dylan’s Tarantula.


5 Spanish Songs emerges on December 2 through Dead Oceans in the UK, and November 26 through Merge in the US.