Saturday, January 22, 2011

Destroyer Destroyed

My first impression of Destroyer was 2009's Bay of Pigs EP. A sprawling ambient to disco epitaph of sorts, it was one of the most beguiling and bewildering songs I had ever heard. It took me a while to really enjoy it as Dan Bejar, the brains behind Destroyer, has a very strange songwriting style. Needless to say, it has become one of my favorite musical experiences. I say experience over song as when it comes to Bejar, it's more about the experience than the song. In "Bay of Pigs" he states it perfectly: "I've seen it all." It's a journey. When I heard that Destroyer's latest record, Kaputt, would close with "Bay of Pigs," I immediately was interested. I mean, if the beguiling track was going to fit on an album, the mood would have to be the same, right? Not always the case, but luckily for me, and for everyone, Kaputt lives up to what "Bay of Pigs" delivers.

Lush production design filled with everything from synthetic waves of sound, guitars of all sorts, horns and flutes as well as backing vocals give Kaputt the feel of a progressive new wave record. Somewhere between the smoothness of Steely Dan and the synth pop of the 80's with a dash of Brian Eno ambiance gives this album a nostalgic feel. Lead off track "Chinatown" is a perfect pop song, but this radio-friendly track is only scratching the surface of the strange and sweeping anthems and epics that litter Kaputt. It is the mission statement for the rest of the record. "Savage Night at the Opera" is Modern English update for today's aging wine-o. It's a woozy lament with lyrics like "Old souls like us have been born to die." These two tracks are the best proof of Dan Bejar's eccentric song writing being reigned in for a pop friendly audience. The zenith of Kaputt is in the 8 minute plus "Suicide Demo for Karen Walker." Starting off with ambient, Frippesque guitar squeals in the background and a simple acoustic line, the song slowly takes shape. The smooth jazz flute comes in right before the disco back beat picks up and the song really gets going. It's a beautiful, melancholy song. "Kaputt" is also one of the highlights mixing all the smoothness of the album in one groovy, dream-pop ballad. Be it for the music, the strange yet poetic and sometimes fitfully brilliant lyrics or for the dream state that the album will inevitably send the listener to, Kaputt is by far the best thing I've heard from Destroyer yet. Definitely a great start to 2011.

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