Leopold and His Fiction's fourth full-length, Darling Destroyer, echoes a newfound sense of urgency with a savage yet soulful sound testifying to frontman Daniel Leopold's Detroit heritage. "I hear my upbringing in this album more than anything I've ever done in my life," Daniel says. "The songs were telling me, ‘This is what you're made of, so trust it.'" Equally rooted in dingy garage punk and Motown's pop-minded R&B, Darling Destroyer burns with a frenzied intensity true to its emotional origins. "Looking back, these songs came from a place of fear and vulnerability," says Daniel, who wrote much of the album while awaiting the birth of his now-five-year-old daughter. "It was my first time ever dealing face-to-face with the severity of that type of emotion and translating it into words. Harnessing its power in the studio pushed me in a way I've never been pushed before."
Throughout, Leopold and His Fiction reveal their gritty ingenuity by merging delicately crafted lyrics with blistering guitar work. Co-produced by Daniel and Chris "Frenchie" Smith (...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Ringo Deathstarr, Jet), the album gracefully veers from the self-mythologizing swagger of "Cowboy" and sinister reverie of "Boy" to the dreamy doo-wop of "I'm Better Off Alone" and lilting folk of "Who Am I." On "Free," agitated rhythms and fuzzed-out basslines make for a blissfully frantic lone-wolf anthem, while "Flowers" matches its confessional complexity with the slow burn of the song's horn-powered arrangement.
From track to track, Darling Destroyer proves Daniel's easy prowess as a frontman, his vocals endlessly shifting from brutal wail to tender serenade. That unhinged yet nuanced performance reaches a glorious peak on "I'm Caving In," which Daniel initially penned as a country song but eventually twisted into a heart-stopping blues number. With its scorching guitar riffs and thrillingly raw vocal performance, "I'm Caving In" emerges as a down-on-your-luck epic that turns desperation into transcendence.