Track Attack: Lala Lala’s Enchanting ‘Destroyer’ Struggles to Determine the Culprit

Posted: by The Editor

There’s an implicit connotation of intent linked with the word “destroyer.” It’s used to describe violent militaries, villains in action movies, or perhaps less dramatically, the older sibling who maliciously kicks over the younger one’s Lego creation. Regardless of its context, we usually think of the “destroyer” as the “other,” a force outside of ourselves that we’re unable to combat effectively. But on Lala Lala‘s song “Destroyer,” the Chicago-based songwriter is struggling to determine who the destructive agent is within the context of a romantic relationship.

Contrary to the track’s cool, deliberate groove and pleasingly catchy rhyme scheme, its narrative sees Lilie West ping-ponging between dealing and accepting the blame. She muddies the details, crooning ominously about “sensing violence” and getting “hit in the face”—which can be interpreted as terrifying hints of abuse. But she follows the former with, “If I’m using my hands can you cut them off / you’re a light turned on and I’m a moth,” suggesting that the physical aggression is of her doing. Though, it’s never clear if it’s all metaphorical.

In the second verse she drops the line, “does it make you sad that it’s my fault / I’m sad myself, I ruined it all,” while also confessing “I don’t know anyone else like you”—a small yet poignant detail about the gap that forms when someone important exits your life. The song’s most straightforwardly sung line is its shimmering hook, “you are the reason my heart broke behind my back,” which adds even more mystery to a story that ends before any allegory is confirmed or denied.

It’s a fascinating breakup song because of how unspecific it is. It’s a swirl of guilt, anger, embarrassment, and pointed yet unformed feelings that are aimed toward a blurry, moving target. Although there’s an eternal satisfaction in hearing an artist explicitly mourn or bitterly unload on a former partner, West’s song about the convoluted middleground between the two feels exceptionally realistic. Although the destruction is obvious, the actual destroyer is often less so.

Eli Enis | @eli_enis

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