WHO ARE THEY? The on-again, off-again, shape-shifting indie-rock crew formed and fronted by singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and all-around musical eccentric Dan Bejar — who may or may not still be a member of Vancouver indie-pop supergroup The New Pornographers. Not that it seems to matter to him either way.
WHAT IS THIS? The surprisingly prolific outfit’s dozenth studio album in nearly 25 years — and the latest in a long line of intriguing indie-pop creations. For the record and for whatever reason, this time the band lineup appears to consist solely of Bejar on synth and vocals, while multi-talented longtime collaborator (and Pornographer) John Collins handles pretty much everything else but guitars, which are capably wielded by Nicolas Bragg.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The ’80s. Which sorta seems to be the idea. According to Bejar, Have We Met was partly inspired and influenced by movies like White Nights, Pretty in Pink and Until the End of the World, along with the minimalism of vintage hip-hop music. And to be fair, that kind of makes sense in light of the understatedly lush tones and retro-chilled vibe of these synth-based, beatbox-laced numbers. Of course, the endearingly adenoidal, subliminally Dylanesque Bejar also says he was inspired by Korean horror movie soundtracks and Leonard Cohen’s final albums, so who the hell knows? In keeping with the retrospective approach, though, Collins supposedly used bits and pieces of previous Destroyer songs to build some of the tracks. All in all, it’s a fusion of old-school and contemporary cool.
WHAT ARE THE MOST REVEALING LYRICS? “Clickety click click / The music makes a musical sound / Measured in echoes / By famous novelist brothers / Shithead Number 1 and Shithead Number 2.” I don’t really know what that means — and since Bejar claims the album’s lyrics are stream-of-consciousness creations, maybe he doesn’t either. But it made me laugh, so there you go. And there’s plenty more where that came from.
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Cue Synthesizer — which also happens to be one of the singles and catchier cuts.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While sitting at your kitchen table late at hight with your laptop — which is also the way Bejar supposedly recorded his vocals (and it sounds like it).
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Cinematic, enigmatic, quirky, textured, cool, nocturnal, stylish, introspective, dusty, soothing.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The low-impact synth-funk of Crimson Tide, the gently chugging It Just Doesn’t Happen, the slow-groover Cue Synthesizer, the tipsy waltz University Hill.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘If he promises to make an album this enjoyable every couple of years, we promise to stop asking him about New Pornographers.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? It’s a long way from party music, but it’s a great soundtrack for the afterparty (or the after-party cleanup).
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A FEELING, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Whimsical nostalgia laced with the tiniest soupcon of hipster irony.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? If you’re already a fan, you won’t be disappointed with your purchase. Then again, even if you aren’t a fan, you should come away pretty satisfied.