For decades, critics have been leveling such denunciations as arch, portentous, heavy-handed, and precious at rock music. Destroyer's Dan Bejar has managed to turn those denunciations into attributes. His vocals feature mannerisms that we'd usually find annoying in our U.K. cousins: feyness, enthusiastic offhandedness, melodramatics, self-importance, and smugness. (Think: Bowie, Suede, and Robyn Hitchcock at their archest.) Then why is Trouble in Dreams so darn appealing in a "guilty pleasure" manner? Perhaps it's because Bejar realizes and delights in his righteous anger ("I've been living in America in churches of greed/It's sick!" he sings in "Dark Leaves Form a Thread") and over-the-top whimsy ("I gave you a flower because foxes travel light and a penny for your thoughts was never enough," he proclaims in "Blue Flower/Blue Flame"). Bejar's beguiling, bittersweet melodies are rich with a comforting, melancholic feeling, featuring sighing, crystalline guitars, elegantly billowing synthesizers, and loping, world-weary tempos, while his warble has just a touch of theatrical self-awareness.
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