Destroyer, Streethawk: A Seduction (Misra): It's not every day that one gets to use the words "elegant" and "ballsy" in the same sentence, but what an elegant, ballsy little album this is! Its elegance lies in its sense of timing — the audible space between the first two words of the line "Go...or don't go," in shimmering opening number "Streethawk I," or the leisurely pace of lines like "Was it the movie or 'The Making of/ Fitzcarraldo'/ Where someone learned/ To love again?" — and in the smooth, milky wisp of a feeling on which the whole album floats by, sounding somewhat like the Sea and Cake, with way more guitar soloing and a more comprehensive, impressive knowledge of the history of North American songwriting. Lyricist Daniel Bejar has already spent two minutes daring you to notice his overt Ian Cutis reference by the end of the album's second song. Where, then, are the balls in all this? Only here: as a singer, Mr. Bejar is the most unabashed Bowie clone since Suede's Brett Anderson, and if you've heard Suede, then you know exactly how shameless Bejar must be. His fearlessness with regard to impending Bowie comparisons is positively intimidating. How can you fault a person who so clearly isn't concerned with what you have to say about his project? You can't. You can only wholeheartedly and unapologetically embrace an album whose languid melodies, Diamond-Dogs-via-Crooked-Rain guitars, and surprise-a-minute, genuinely intelligent lyrics ("Write your English music/ Though you know it will come to no good/ When brilliance has a taste for suffering/ And you're softer than the Western world") are as understandable in feeling as they are cryptic in sense ("Medium rotation/ The shock of the new/ And a memo from Feldman/ Saying everything was true"). It's intellectual! It's palatable! It's got a song that sounds exactly like an outtake from Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy! Plenty of records are either cool or good, but this one is both. — John Darnielle

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