‘Have We Met?’ is dark, terrifying and somehow danceable

Courtesy of Merge Records.

Courtesy of Merge Records.

Led by frontman Dan Bejar of “The New Pornographers,” Canadian band “Destroyer” turns nightmare fuel into dreamy sophisti-pop on their newest album, “Have We Met”. Drawing inspiration from “The Twilight Zone,” Edgar Allan Poe, and the soundtracks of Korean horror films, the album evokes a certain unmatched surrealness.

The process of recording the album took a more collective approach than the band’s previous projects. Bejar reportedly recorded all of the vocals for the album on GarageBand while sitting at his own kitchen table. Layers of synthesizers and rhythm sections were then added by the band’s own John Collins and guitar was performed by Nicholas Bragg. 

Like previous album, “Kaputt,” Bejar utilizes his familiar stream of consciousness style of songwriting. His lyrics are often surreal and self-reflective.

 “I was like the laziest river, a vulture predisposed to eating off floors/No, wait, I take that back — I was more like an ocean, stuck inside hospital corridors,” he sings in “Crimson Tide”. 

According to Bejar, the album was partially influenced by ‘80s films like “Pretty in Pink” and “White Nights,” which we can hear quite a bit on tracks like “Crimson Tide” that rely heavily on shimmering synths. Bejar’s internal monologue on this song is unsettling to say the least, but don’t let it fool you, this is a dance song. 

“Kinda Dark” is a masterpiece of a song. Continuing down this unsettling path, it boasts a somber electronic beat that turns into a startling attack of drums and a noisy guitar solo. But don’t worry, the soundscapes of ‘80s films quickly return with the glittery “It Just Doesn’t Happen.” 

“The Raven,” likely a reference to Poe, prophesied an apocalyptic world — “Just look at the world around you — Actually, no don’t look,” he sings. He paints a picture that is stirring with,
“The dead twist and shout in an invisible world — The Grand Ole Opry of Death is Breathless.” The song is evidence of what makes “Have We Met?” so strong — Bejar being a captivating songwriter. 

“Have We Met?” features many of the sonic elements that Destroyer was using in previous albums, even taking samples of the saxophones from “Kaputt”. But “Have We Met?” isn’t just a collection of throwback songs. It’s heavier and darker than anything the band had released before. The myriad of ways the synthesizers are used on this album are impressive. And most of all, the songwriting is pure poetry — raw, introspective, beautiful, and sometimes hilarious. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Kati Morris can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @neutralsoymlk.