With a series of increasingly commanding albums, Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar has been doing more than would seem could be done to salvage the concept of ennui. The theme could play out in one of his songs: a semi-lionized, semi-laughable anachronism that gets misused, pretentiously overregarded, laughed at for the wrong reasons, mistaken for something less than serious. The condition could inspire glassy-eyed stares, or an album-opening line like this: "Okay, fine, even the sky looks like wine."
Trouble In Dreams is less immediately engaging than 2006's masterful Destroyer's Rubies, but Bejar's writing remains improbably rich and stately, no matter how coy he plays in terms of tunefulness. Over tangled indie-rock, with an angry/adenoidal yelp, Bejar invokes lots of syndromes common to those stuck between skepticism and ideals; they might be called "hipsters" in other contexts, but in Bejar's considered world, they're artists, readers, thinkers, "music lovers." It's an important crowd, but—as goes the refrain in "My Favorite Year"—"beware the company you reside in."
Destroyer sounds focused as a band this time out, but there's an uneasiness at play in songs that tend to wander. "My Favorite Year" is rare as an unbridled hit-in-waiting, with an epic sense of scale and guitars mixed big and with lots of '80s reverb. Others tend to wince and withhold—but as Bejar sings in another song that moans for eight slow minutes, "one gives what one gets."