I’ve written quite a bit about the Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstay Robert Alfons, and his solo electro pop recording project TR/ST over the years, and as you may recall Alfons has released two critically and commercially successful albums — 2012’s self-titled album and 2014’s Joyland. Interestingly, Joyland was a decided change in sonic direction for the Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay as the album found him crafting pop orientated, muscular club bangers.
Five years have passed since Joyland‘s release, and during that time, Alfons had been writing and recording new material in a farmhouse in Southern Ontario and in Los Angeles, where has since relocated. Working with an all-star list of collaborators that included Austra’s Maya Postepski, with whom he collaborated with on his self-titled debut — with Postepski co-writing and co-producing six songs. Alfons also worked with co-producers Lars Stalfors and Damian Taylor to further refine the album’s overall sound.
During the writing and recording process for Destroyer, Alfons learned that patience would be a major ingredient and influence on his songwriting approach and the album’s sound. “The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” Alfons says in press notes. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction. My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one. They just poured out of me.” With The Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”
Destroyer 1‘s first single was the “Bizarre Love Triangle”-like “Gone,” a radio friendly and accessible track centered around a swooning and urgent Romanticism. “Unbleached,” the album’s second single, was a collaboration with longtime collaborator Maya Postepski was a decidedly industrial track inspired by the sound of rats running back and forth on the roof, complete with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of arpeggiated synths and an enormous hook. The album’s third single, “Colossal,” continues his ongoing collaboration with Austra’s Postepski — and in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: a tweeter and woofer thumping, industrial house-leaning production centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, shuffling beats and enormous hooks that evokes early morning mist slowly rising in the horizon.
“Such a special collab with Maya, we wrote it together while in different parts of the world,” Alfons explains in press notes. “This song was written during long walks I would take in the middle of the night around the hills in my neighborhood, watching the mist rise as the sun came up.” Postepski adds “I was coming home on the train with my music on random when a TR/ST song came on from the first album we made, I started crying, it brought back so many memories. I sent Robert the sketches for ‘Colossal’ that night. He wrote back and we rekindled our relationship, so I find it deeply emotional every time I hear it. Had I not taken the chance and sent it who knows if we would be working together again. Overcoming fear and being brave have become the focus of my work and this song underlines that — if one is willing to look into the lion’s mouth the rewards can be astounding.”