Destroyer - Kaputt

Album cover
Glam Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave
Merge Records
Destroyer
Kaputt
Destroyer - Kaputt Review rating:
4.5
User rating:
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

It is fitting almost, that Dan Bejar's ninth record as Destroyer is not only one of his finest yet, but Kaputt's best track was released almost two years ago. Maybe it is that Bejar has always kind of slinked around the edges of obscurity or that “Bay Of Pigs” is simply fixated to the end of the album—but regardless of time the re-worked epic has had to float around in between your ear lobes it never becomes stale. Much like Bejar himself, who has spent his periods between Destroyer albums helping front the likes of New Pornographers and Swan Lake and befittingly Kaputt has a capricious air about it. Each stylistic change is enacted on a moments notice or is simply mashed together into some semblance of structure. Though Bejar's self-described “European Jazz” is less foolish recklessness and more a focused hand picking of desired influences. Kaputt reeks of David Bowie synthy funk meets the slap dash ethos of Guided By Voices and calculated madness of Roxy Music. Yet none of it feels forced or synthetic. Bejar isn't simply aping his idols, he's following in their foot-steps while taking his own brand of horn-laden glam rock along for the stroll.

Now in highlighting “Bay Of Pigs” as a stand out it's not to create a notion of it being clear cut in any manner. Or that the rest of Kaputt can't in turn follow suit. Bejar and  his bandmates continue an immense cycle of excellent records starting with 2006's Destroyer's Rubies. Successfully stringing together nine panoramic pop songs into fifty minutes of blissful abandon. The “fun factor” or whatever you wish to call it, is almost certainly the albums finest merit. Besides the excellent song writing, full-bodied production (everything is just so lush) infectious hooks, perfectly paced build ups and general all around perpetual ease to be lost in; of course. Yet it is all of Kaputt's layers that grant it such an air of gravitas. Layers in the sense that it's no standard two guitar and drums setup; showcasing essentially vague observations and personal musings for lyrics. But Bejar's pen is more akin to a wayward poet than that of a unbalanced looney. And the same attention to detail is paid to his arrangements, chord progressions and blaring brass. Simply put: Kaputt totes one of the most attractive mixes you're likely to hear in 2011.

So where does this put Bejar and the band now? Eccentricity is still simultaneously one of Destroyer's most rewarding and divisive aspects. With Kaputt though, he never shoves off the deep end—breaking the margin in an attempt to simply press a border. Tracks like “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker” and “Kaputt” (8:26 and 6:18 respectively) progress in movements generally tailored to avant-pop. Yet both tracks are sopping with hooks; enough so that they ease right on by. But not in the sense of a whimsical pop tune—more an engrossing, pristine paced listen with a languid ease. Even Kaputt's most taxing aspects are few and far between; even rarer are said drawbacks more than nit-picking for argument's sake. Kaputt is absurdly solid from front to back and unlike many of Destroyer's previous records: the learning curve and/or you-must-be-this-tall-to-ride-Kaputt-meter isn't all that substantial. The record is gilded in a prismatic sheen; but not for sheer sake of complexity—this just seems like that record Bejar was always destined to make.

Sweeping hyberbole aside: what affords Kaputt and Bejar such a successful sense of adventure and urgency is how much they do with so little. Even as Kaputt is no slouch musically; the album is also not crafted under kitchen-sink guidelines. Maybe it's modern music's recent penchant for stuffing every single instrument you can think of ever into even a minute portion of your music that's left an air or boredom to simple band setups. Furthermore promotes categorization of something as hefty as Kaputt and Destroyer as somehow minimalist in any way. Yet the record picks an aesthetic and sticks to it through-out. The album sounds like it was crafted by a band – not Destroyer plus session musicians, a local choir and a few string quartets with a remix from a local DJ. Every bit of Kaputt sounds as much like one would assume it does in person on record. While the album is about as close to “no frills” as rock is to salt, the overall seamlesness and refreshing simplicity offered by Kaputt echoes the experimental heart of classic rock n' roll. Or atleast an ethos of: sometimes just a guitar is fine, man. But why not throw this sax in for good measure?

1. Chinatown
2. Blue Eyes
3. Savage Night at the Opera
4. Suicide Demo for Kara Walker
5. Poor in Love
6. Kaputt
7. Downtown
8. Song for America
9. Bay of Pigs

Destroyer is a Canadian indie rock band fronted by singer-songwriter Dan Bejar.

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