, Have We Met
(Merge Records) – Dan Bejar’s contributions to New Pornographers are always quirky, yet upbeat-tuneful. For his own Destroyer project, Bejar relies on a lusher, sweeping sound that would be appropriate for French surrealist films. In this 13th Destroyer studio album he almost seems to channel French crooner Charles Aznavour, though with a detached, almost icy sophistication in songs like “Crimson Tide.” Destroyer could become pretentious if not for Bejar’s brilliant poetry and the unusual, beautiful musical arrangements.
(Saddle Creek) – Followers of Philadelphia’s Hop Along always knew lead singer and guitarist Frances Quinlan was a remarkable lyricist, but her first solo effort is an embellished folk-music affair far different than her rock band. Lyrics in songs like “Your Reply” are more complex than her past work, and arrangements can move from a stripped-down duo to a full chamber ensemble. Hop Along could turn into a side project, because Quinlan’s solo debut is as exciting as Joni Mitchell’s first album.