"Destroyer" was initially planned to appear on the band's previous album, Low Budget, appearing in early track listings of the in-progress album. However, the song was dropped from Low Budget because the band could not create a satisfactory mix.
The song features many callbacks to previous Kinks songs, both lyrically and musically. The track borrows the main riff from The Kinks' 1964 song, "All Day and All of the Night", which was one of the band's first hits. The lyrics are a continuation of The Kinks' 1970 hit song, "Lola", which is about a transvestite. In "Destroyer", the protagonist of the song becomes paranoid after taking Lola back to his place.
The track was chosen as the lead single from the album in the US ("Better Things" was the lead single in the UK), although it was released after the album in September. The single reached #3 on the Billboard Rock Top Tracks chart and #85 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the UK, the track was only available when the album was released there in January 1982.