If you had Dan Bejar’s voice and Neko Case’s phone number, would you bother singing your own songs? I’m all for vocally-limited male singers with exceptional songwriting skills (Leonard Cohen, Colin Meloy, Serge Gainsbourg, Luke Sutherland, Mark E Smith, Steve Malkmus, Lee Hazelwood, maybe even Tom Waits) as long as they seem aware of their limitations, and use what’s left with art, taste, and inspired instrumentation. Bejar sounds like a drunk chipmunk. If he’s an acquired taste, I’m gonna have to overcome vomiting. And I’m not buying ‘interpretive’ or ‘experimental.’ Bejar makes Jeff Mangum sound like a basso profundo. With pitch.
Do not mistake: I’m a New Pornographers fan, at least of the second album. But that’s the AC Newman show, I understand. Bejar’s there for indie cred support or something. Or to not sing. Or to boost sales of his Destroyer albums.
I also wasted a good and rare ten bucks on Destroyer’s Streethawk: A Seduction a few years back and, as you can tell, I hold grudges like a terrorist. Sensitive hipsters can’t possibly be proud of exalting Bejar while passing over equally or better talented songwriters like Andy Falkous of McLusky, a now defunct Welsh trio who dropped three superb albums on Too Pure. Yesterday, they released McLuskyism, a must-buy posthumous greatest hits collection, for fans of Pavement, the Fall, and the Pixies without wanting to hear those bands ripped off. On the track below, listen for the coda-chorus; it’s a nice way to hate your hometown, especially one person who still lives there.
And Dan Bejar: call Neko. She will only bring you happiness.