Have We Met

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Dan Bejar has conjured a vocal personality for himself that's so arch and mannered it's hard not to wonder if he's aware of just how witty he is. Of course, a guy who comes up with titles like "The Television Music Supervisor," "The Man in Black's Blues," or "Cue Synthesizer" is tipping his hand to the fact that at least a little of his tongue is in his cheek. The tug between the melodramatic sweep of Bejar's music and the darkly acidic snark of his lyrics and vocals is half of the fun of Bejar's 11th album under the banner Destroyer, 2020's Have We Met. Bejar (or more accurately his persona) sounds like he has a cigarette holder in one hand and a glass of gin in the other here as he passes judgement on all in his line of sight. But the music on Have We Met is savvy and shrewdly constructed indie pop built around the sleek sound of vintage synthesizers and the snap of collectable rhythm machines, while guitar and bass adds expertly applied punctuation to the tracks. If Bejar wants to be hooky, he has no trouble coming up with tunes like "Crimson Tide," "It Just Doesn't Happen," or "Cue Synthesizer," all numbers with cool yet danceable grooves and melodies upbeat enough to have made the rotation on any '80s radio station with a willingness to play new wave. There is a sense of humor in Have We Met, but it's clear that Bejar isn't doing this as a joke; the clouds of guitars that drift through the fields of keyboards on the title track, the haunting synthesized voices of "Foolssong," and the edgy sonic drama in "The Television Music Supervisor" confirm there's much more up his sleeve than revamping vintage synth pop, as good as he may be at that. While Have We Met doesn't sound quite like top-shelf Destroyer, it's a fine testament to Bejar's talent and his gift for having things both ways at once, lyrically droll and musically cool and on point.

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