Under Review: Destroyer – Kaputt

In reacquainting myself with The New Pornographers last year, I declared that Dan “Destroyer” Bejar’s role was becoming less and less integral to the greater mission of the band. That’s not to say that his presence isn’t needed; it’s more that he doesn’t seem to be as into it as the rest of the band’s many members. His contributions to Together were pretty good, and though he rarely performed on songs that weren’t his, Bejar’s appearance on the Pornographers’ tour was plenty appreciated. It would be unfair to accuse Bejar of phoning in his Pornographers songs, but listening to Kaputt, it’s clear that he saves his best stuff for himself. Bejar’s solo career has been defined by shifting sonic textures and densely-written lyrics. Kaputt sets the latter to the most dramatic musical undertaking of Bejar’s career: smooth AM pop.

Though few moments on Kaputt veer far from its lite rock motif, it comes across as cohesive rather than samey. From the lush opening of “Chinatown,” Kaputt remains a cool and composed record in the vein of Roxy Music’s seminal Avalon. It’s not really like Bejar to get too aggressive, but here his breathy intonations help the heady literary references to go down nice n’ easy. The title track makes reference to writing “a song about America,” making the eventual arrival of “Song For America” delightfully self-referential. Some of Kaputt’s finest moments don’t even feature lyrics, such as Bejar’s wordless riff on “Savage Night At The Opera” (which oddly recalls the iconic bassline of “Age Of Consent”) and the extended intro to “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker.”

Closing the album is a reworked version of “Bay Of Pigs,” the title track from a stunning 2009 EP. While the original 14-minute piece has been pared down to just 11, the older tune fits right into the Kaputt model. Incidentally, that seems to be the album’s main theme: not just blending old with new (i.e. bringing an outdated sound to today’s fickle audiences), but reinventing the present in the image of the past. Bejar is probably the only artist around who could get away with making a record like Kaputt, and boy are we lucky that he did.

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~ by E. on January 24, 2011.

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