Here’s the scene: hot summer day, hop in the car, full tank of gas, windows down, cruising around town, feeling good... There’s gotta be music for this, right?
Luckily, I had just the thing to crank out. I went for the new release by Taipei’s Destroyers 擊沈女孩.
Their tight brand of California punk kept my smile wide and my spirits high. That’s what happens when people who genuinely like one another and truly love what they play press ‘record’. You can readily experience that when you see ‘em live. And now you can take that with you.
But amid my bliss, one nagging question lingered: how are these guys not superstars already?
Let’s look at why they ought to be. Off the top of my head, I came up with this quick list:
High energy punk? Check.
Dynamic, catchy songwriting? Check.
Earnest, vulnerable lyrics? Check.
Ska breaks!!! Check!!!
Musical & vocal chops? Check.
Oh, and a heavy dose of quality intangibles like attitude, joy, & charisma? Check. Check. Check.
We Are... Destroyers is a follow-up to 2012’s Maria, an EP freely distributed at street-side performances and gigs around town. 30分鐘 was my favorite off that release and it reappears much the same on this album.
What I like about the song is how it exemplifies all that I enjoy about the band: the instant hooks, the honest, funny lyrics, and the spirited delivery.
“Cigarettes and ADD / were always cool with me / every time that I fucked up / they always comfort me”
My new favorite, however, might be 小擇瑪莉亞. I’m loving Johnny Kao’s thick bass, but even more I relish the anguish of the relationship in question. I think we’ve all been there - so helplessly smitten you’re doomed no matter what. It’s a real thing, and Destroyers have captured it perfectly.
“If looks could kill then sign me up and put me six feet under / the girl you never thought you’d be...”
And then there’s 少女時代 , a spicy number that rips open with a killer riff & immediately piles it on with barnful of “heys”, leaping straight into a delicious ska chorus : “我愛你很久 ／ 你都不理我 ／ 不知道我是誰 ／那我只想說사랑해“(「사랑해」 is Korean for 'I love you' ). I think we know how this is gonna end...
In fact, the band is like the friend who never learns - we can all see it coming from a mile away, or in this case, from the first song, but our pals keep slamming into the walls of unrequited love nonetheless. Opening track 給個機會 sets this motif and hearts be damned. But with a wink and a nod, Destroyers make failed romance fun.
While they don’t take themselves too seriously, they do have some serious skills on display. Beneath the sing-a-longs are some fine licks and fills. There is some nice attention to detail happening here, something to reward the moments when you’re forced to use headphones. Once I heard all the little riffs dancing behind the verses, I came away all the more impressed. The songs would still stand up well without these textures, but they’re way better for them. Not too busy and also not superfluous. Kudos to axe-meisters Da Wei and Jon Hom.
On vocals, Jon has some strong chops, and I’m wondering why it’s always the skinny guys who can summon so much power (非人物種 Inhuman’s 阿顯 comes to mind). Anchoring it all is Lee on the kit, a drummer in about 250 concurrent bands, which must aid his deft gear-shifting within the songs. But really, Lee’s a drummer in demand for a reason, and his steady navigation of the constant changes underscores his talents.
The EP closes with a country/western outro, 30秒, and there you have it: ample evidence these guys are having a boatload of fun together. And if you’ve ever suffered a mad crush or broken heart, then you and I are all invited to the Destroyers’ party to laugh it all off.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get laid, too.