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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Uncool’ Destroyer album near perfect

    Destroyer’s new album Kaputt shouldn’t work, at least among today’s indie music. Yet it’s certainly one of the best records released so far this year.

    Kaputt occupies a niche that encompasses late ‘70s and early ‘80s musical territory. But it’s not the stuff that most music critics base their standards on: no punk, post-punk, New Wave, New Romantic, college rock or even the canonical hard rock of Led Zeppelin or AC/DC.

    Instead, Destroyer (Dan Bejar’s solo project when he isn’t part of musical super group The New Pornographers) chose soft rock, smooth jazz, “”adult contemporary”” and ambient music as its musical loci for the album.

    That list is as cool as saying something is “”cool”” nowadays. That is, it isn’t. But somehow, in its own low-key way, Kaputt proves to be rewarding with each listen, and makes almost no missteps.

    At first listen, one imagines Bejar is putting us on, which wouldn’t be a first for him. As evidenced by his other Destroyer albums, Bejar enjoys being oblique and self-referential with his lyrics over rather straightforward music. (Just look to song titles like “”Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”” or “”A Savage Night at the Opera.””)

    In Kaputt, however, Bejar seems to be taking on another persona, one without the smirk. This time, he’s a ladies’ man who sounds tired of chasing after love at the fading discotheques, in smoky bars and all the trendy new downtown clubs.

    Much of Bejar’s distinctive singing style is still present in Kaputt. He rushes through certain words with a flair for the dramatic and his lyric book is littered with exclamation marks and obscure references.

    Washes of soft synths (no New Order here) meld with relaxed, jazzy saxophone, trumpet and flute throughout Kaputt and often take the forefront in place of an electric guitar. Long instrumental sections just settle in for the night, such as opener “”Chinatown,”” “”Suicide Demo for Kara Walker,”” “”Kaputt,”” “”Downtown”” and the 11-minute ambient epic “”Bay of Pigs.””

    Whether you listen intently or passively to the music and lyrics, Destroyer’s Kaputt works on as many levels as you want it to.

     

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