The founder of Destroyer and part-time New Pornographer is one of those musicians exposed to complex post-modern ruminations.
From album reviews to a Destroyer drinking game, a community has formed to debate the man’s obtuse lyrics. And as Bejar explains, he wished it wasn’t so.
“I can’t remember exactly when, but there’s been a couple times, few and far between, [where someone’s interpretation of my song] was interesting,” he said. “But more often than not, I’m like, how can they be more off-base? Especially when people take a cultural theory approach to my songs, that they are all self-referential…and filled with irony. That stuff, I don’t put any stock in.”
Instead, folks should consider his songs as songs. Bejar spends more time contemplating the placement of lyrics than the lyrics themselves, which are mostly “just instinctual.” Though the stories are important, they shouldn’t be judged alone.
“[I don’t think] that ideas and songs are worthless if they aren’t perfect poems accompanied to music,” he said. “The idea of how [the lyric] is sung — I think that’s the most important idea…I don’t think those two worlds should be smooshed together [lyrics and music]. But there hasn’t been a forum to talk about that.”
Growing up, Bejar wasn’t interested in lyrics until introduced to early American indie rock, particularly Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted. Even then, it wasn’t the stories Stephen Malkmus told that caught Bejar’s ear, but rather the placement of his lyrics.
“I was always interested in the melody, and the general look of band, because when you’re a teenager that’s what you’re into,” he said, laughing. “But with Slanted and Enchanted, the vocals are kind of up in the mix. They kind of led the melodies a lot…[they] were lyrical in a way that was classical — regressive but still kind of distinct.”
He pointed out a great song doesn’t need amazing lyrics to be timeless. Consider the Beach Boys, who put out songs with both classic lines and toss-away verses. Aside from genres like hip-hop or folk, lyrical content never makes or breaks a song.
“I don’t know why [some people] single-out my lyrics as vague or gibberish. I don’t think that,” he said. “Sometimes it seems like…[people don’t like the lyrics], and that’s what they’re indirectly saying…If it’s nonsensical, if you think so, just come out and say it is.”