Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Synth Pop
No one could ever accuse sometime New Pornographer Dan Bejar of following a linear career path with his Destroyer project. They began life in 1995 as the sort of acoustic post-Pavement outfit that released cassette-only albums with names such as Ideas for Songs. Over the next 16 years, Bejar has variously offered up fey, glammy art-rock in the image of David Bowie's Hunky Dory; epic balladry set to an electronic simulation of an orchestra; "ambient disco"; and avant garde electronica, with Bejar's florid lyrics the only linking factor.
Destroyer’s new album Kaputt may be one of the most indefensible albums of all time. But it’s also a masterpiece. Shrugging off the rich cultural cache he has established for himself through nine excellent albums of “European blues,” Daniel Bejar here indulges in some of the most poorly regarded pop genres of all time: smooth jazz, new age ambient, easy listening, and white disco.
Destroyer - Kaputt The saxophones, flutes and conga drums that permeate Dan Bejar's ninth album as Destroyer will likely divide fans who have painted the Vancouver songwriter into an experimental rock corner. But those who refuse to embrace the sophisticated sounds of the 80s will miss out; Kaputt is Bejar's best album to date. Sanding down the rough edges of his vocals, he punctuates his observations, witticisms and pop culture references with female backing vocals that add to the disc's post-disco feel.
Click to listen to "Kaputt" and "Chinatown" Best known as the guy in the New Pornographers who sings the frizzed-out Bowie-esque songs, Dan Bejar has been making his own lovably pretentious glam-folk records as Destroyer for more than a decade. Bejar's ninth disc detours into all manner of early-Eighties smoothness — glassy New Wave bass lines, blue-Monday synths, turquoise- sport-coat saxophones, backup singers straight off a Steely Dan record, all filtered through the obtuse, literary bent that turns Destroyer albums into such fun puzzles. Bejar's lyrics are sad-poet spirals, glancing off politics, sex, drugs and music, and packed with perfect New Wave laments like "Magnolia's a girl/Her heart's made of wood/ As apocalypses go, that's pretty good.
Daniel Bejar has been indie rock’s best kept secret for over a decade, but that should change with his latest release, Kaputt. From his humble beginning as a troubadour in the mid-Nineties, recording solo on a 4-track, the Canadian singer-songwriter hasn’t strayed too far off that path, despite his propensity to mix and match elements of surprisingly disparate genres. Since his fourth album, 2000’s Thief, he has meshed folk with glam, blue-eyed soul with new wave, and more recently, ambient electronic with disco.
Dan Bejar, the prolific songwriter behind Destroyer, is at it again with Kaputt: This, an indomitable album with a mild-mannered demeanor, swings between contradictory states without seeming somehow troubled. It feels almost on the periphery, and as a result it takes some sharp focus to really hone in on some of the qualities on display. It's laid-back, it's comfortable, and it's not entirely too challenging, but there's depth here when it's needed.
Every era has a sound. When considering this, it can be easy to forget that the sound developed as a way to express something. Music heard as kitsch years later was once put forth with complete sincerity. I mention this in connection with Kaputt, the new record from Dan Bejar's Destroyer, because the first thing that strikes you about the album is its unusual sound, one for which we've all developed a cluster of associations.
Dan Bejar has been producing records under the Destroyer moniker for the better part of the past decade and a half. When he’s not resurrecting his role as a fringe member of the New Pornographers, he’s generally at work on some new collection with which he’ll further convey his complex ideas on love, or at least his refutation of the world’s simplistic understanding of love. His lyrics are spiteful yet enchanted, discouraged yet awestruck, riddled with pop-culture references and garnished with dozens of assorted female names.
Another departure for Dan Bejar Always a cagey artist, Dan Bejar sheds his skin seemingly with every song. His previous album, Trouble in Dreams, was his indie rock record, full of scabrous guitar riffs and churning grooves; before that, he did ornate chamber pop on Rubies; before that, dreamy MIDI-fied synthscapes on Your Blues. He’s a chameleon who changes color to suit a background that only he sees, which means his latest, Kaputt, is a typical Destroyer album only in that it sounds so little like previous Destroyer albums.
The last full-length outing to come from the art-rock camp of Destroyer was 2008’s Trouble in Dreams. There, Dan Bejar created a wasted rock-and-roll space akin to Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Wooden Ships,” but with lyrics delivered like Bowie on The Mount. A retooling has obviously occurred since then—his two 12” EP releases (Bay of Pigs and Archer on the Beach) wiped the slate clean with cold washes of minimal synths and whispery vocals.
Included in the press material announcing Kaputt, the ninth album from Dan Bejar’s Destroyer project, was a list of “some of the themes alluded to or avoided in the album.” Elliptical and random, in the manner of something scribbled at 2 a.m. on a cocktail napkin, the paragraph namedrops the Bowie/Oshima flick Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Roxy Music LPs Avalon and Boys and Girls, African-American silhouette artist Kara Walker, strangely capitalized concepts “The Cocaine Addicts” and “American Communism,” and another dozen or so references and half-thoughts.
To anyone who experienced Hall & Oates’ ’80s reign, pastel horns, louche bass and reverb signify the decade’s worst excesses; to us, their cheesiness is as mysterious as finding flamingo slacks covered in suspect stains in your parents’ attic.It’s in this vein that Destroyer’s 10th album gently swaggers, Dan Bejar drawing from the era’s smoothest sounds and darkening them with wry tales of “chasing cocaine in the back rooms of the world all night” on the title track, and puking in English gardens (‘Bay Of Pigs’). Bejar creates an astonishing world in just nine songs; it’s his finest work to date, and excessive, but irresistibly so.Laura SnapesOrder a copy of Destroyer’s ‘Kaputt’ from Amazon .
I went to college with a girl who loved Dan Bejar in the same way that a great many more people love Madonna or Michael Jackson. Once at a party at her apartment I noticed a hand-drawn picture of Mr. Destroyer pinned to her bedroom door. She was thrilled that I even recognized him and we spent a good portion of the night talking through the Bejar catalogue (not just the Destroyer stuff, which we both agreed was best, but also his work with Swan Lake and the New Pornographers), formidable then and only more so today.
Shape-shifting Canadian pop craftsman Daniel Bejar's ninth studio album under the Destroyer moniker added a whole lot of Bryan Ferry to a pot already boiling over with copious amounts of Bowie, Dylan, and T. Rex. Bejar's predilection for pairing Oscar Wilde-inspired, semi-apocalyptic witticisms with glam-kissed, minor-seventh retro pop remained intact, but where previous outings like This Night and Streethawk: A Seduction mined the '70s for inspiration, 2011's Kaputt utilizes '80s sophisti-pop, New Romantic, Northern soul, and straight-up adult contemporary to deliver a flawed but fascinating record.
In recent years, I’ve forgiven some albums released in the ‘80s. Stuff like Bob Dylan’s Infidels or Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. have earned a pass because they are good in spite of the tinny, hollow production of their time. That was what super-produced music sounded like then, for better or worse.
Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (also of the New Pornographers) likes his jazz smooth and his nights laden with ennui. Kaputt nods to Steely Dan and late Roxy Music, and its shimmering synths and moody soft rock would be the perfect soundtrack to a romantic urban noir. Tighten the belt of your trench coat as you pause outside the bar in the fog: A sax solo has never sounded so lonely (or so right).
A genuine classic, unlike anything any other artist will release in 2011. Tom Hocknell 2011 Constant line-up changes and frequent diversions in musical direction means Destroyer are shamefully more of a cult attraction than a household name. But that might be about to change. This seamless collection of songs is gaining increasing numbers of admirers, and reached a respectable chart position of 62 on the Billboard chart when it was released stateside in January.
Dan Bejar has been releasing music as Destroyer for the better part of the past two decades. As most artists with a history of that length, his sound has evolved from his early bedroom recordings to the verbose and grandiose pop of his more recent releases—though never leery to push some boundary along the way. Since 2001, Bejar has been working his way into the hearts and minds of college radio.
In the long, disjointed list of “themes alluded to or avoided” in the press release to Dan Bejar’s 9th LP as Destroyer, Kaputt, a couple lines stick out as more serious-minded than others: “The hopelessness of the future of music” and “The pointlessness of writing songs for today. ” If perhaps a little sour and self-handicapping, they struck me as intellectual – something Bejar often receives credit for – and after listening to his self-examining musings on such themes on recent 12? b-side “Grief Point” I was half expecting some more straightforward handling of lyrical content this time around. As it turns out, I was wrong, and Bejar has passed through the musical valley of the shadow and came back the same cool, cryptic dude.