Thief is Destroyer’s third full length and first with a full band, originally released in 2000, and is the album on which Destroyer truly hit its stride. Not only did Dan Bejar offer up what was easily his best work to date; with this album, it became clear he was a songwriter who wasn’t just producing incremental batches of songs but an entire connected oeuvre. He was clearly a student of rock history but emerged as his own biggest influence. (Check the self-referential Destroyer’s the Temple that kicks things off, as well as the previous-album callback City of Daughters.)
The middle of three albums on which John Collins (bass) and Scott Morgan (drums) accompanied, the songs on Thief are some of the most immediately approachable in the Destroyer catalogue. The Way of Perpetual Roads is so loose it swings; City of Daughters is as sweet a piece of power pop as any of Bejar’s contributions to the New Pornographers; and Canadian Lover / Falcon’s Escape remains one of Destroyer’s most enduring anthems, a rare fist-pumping moment. Lyrically, Bejar was at his sharpest, both in terms of dishing out barbs (largely targeted at the music industry) and commanding the full range of his free-flowing poetry—poignancy to punchlines with just the right amount of inscrutability to keep you listening again and again.