Five Spanish Songs EP
Dan Bejar, the mastermind behind Destroyer, has made a career out of writing literate and dense lyrics filled with observant character study.
This makes Bejar’s new EP, Five Spanish Songs, a curiosity for two reasons: the songs are all covers and are entirely in Spanish. And just as Bejar completely deconstructed and challenged Destroyer’s sound with 2011’s magnificent Kaputt, here, he strips away his group’s most defining trait to reveal himself as a both an excellent singer and an even better pop craftsman.
All five of the songs on Five Spanish Songs are covers originally performed by the Spanish group Sr. Chinarro. Sr. Chinarro is a fitting choice, as the complex lyrics and sonic aesthetic of the group seem a fitting analog to that of Destroyer. However, Destroyer’s versions of these songs do not mirror their Spanish counterparts in feel, as the moody post-punk reverb of “Bye Bye” or “Maria De Las Nieves” is replaced with a breezy acoustic swing that inhabits the beach-at-dusk scene on the EP’s cover.
And conversely, when Sr. Chinarro presents a loose, acoustic “El Rito,”Destroyer interprets a rollicking glam rocker. Five Spanish Songs proves Destroyer to be much more slippery than previously thought.
Just as Bejar set a stick of dynamite to the “verbose Neil Young” phase of 2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies with 2011’s sleek Kaputt, Five Spanish Songs obliterates the notion that complex lyrics are what makes Destroyer great.
Bejar’s voice is nuanced and emotive across the EP, and the sound is as varied and engaging as any of Destroyer’s best records. The EP’s consistent excellence forgives its relative brevity, as it closes with its strongest track: the touching and sparse “Bye Bye.” If nothing else, Five Spanish Songs illustrates exactly how foolish it is to try and anticipate Destroyer’s next move.
— James Butler
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