Monday, 7 February 2011

REVIEW: Destroyer - Kaputt

As one of many New Pornographers with a fairly regular output all of his own, Dan Bejar's solo outings in Destroyer don't necessarily stand out as much as they would if he were the only member moonlighting. 

Even so, it's been a good couple of years since A.C. Newman and Neko Case went toe-to-toe with impressive individual efforts, so the people are most likely ready for another chapter.

One of the first impressions made by Kaputt is just how schmoooove is its approach. Flowing effortlessly from the speakers, opener Chinatown manages to be both lush and lounge at once, inducing a bizarre sense that this is all quite pleasant but might not sound out of place as background music in a hotel lobby. 

Taken from the new album Kaputt, out now 

 Buy it at Insound!

Next up, Blue Eyes offers a little more in the way of sonic quirks, the lyrical delivery slightly off time and the instrumentation following suit. The brass section also departs from the lounge style into more loose jazz territory, making for a less arse-clenching listen. Even so, the smooth, easy listening element lingers still above the more engaging elements.

In his other gig, Bejar's voice proves the sweet treat on top of many songs. On his own, it can feel a little more like the lid fell off the pot and your dessert is now 90% sugar. This richness certainly gives him a characteristic tone, identifiable within just a few words, but that doesn't save it from over egging the pudding on many an occasion.

That said, when that sweet tone blends well with the laid back, loose jazz elements of the music, as evidenced on Suicide Demo for Kara Walker, the results are altogether striking. Playing up all the positive elements of his compositions - unpredictable delivery, distant brass, and a compelling depth of minimalist instrumentation - this one is a definite highlight of Kaputt.

The lyrics are also worthy of praise, adding extra nuance to Bejar's work

"You terrify the land. You are pestle and mortar / Your first love's new order: Mother Nature's Son" and "Sounds, Smash Hits, Melody Maker, NME / All sound like a dream to me" being a couple of choice cuts that demonstrate the singer's layered writing.

All in all Kaputt is a mildly frustrating listening experience, chiefly because there's so much going for the great songs (Suicide Demo..., Poor In Love) that the frequent cheesy moments - for want of a better term - are a critical detraction. They interject often enough to undermine the finer points of Bejar's songs, making this a flawed but not failed release. It has its moments and some will be able to put the lesser points to the back of their mind, but for this listener they hit front and centre just a few times too many.

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