Thursday, 9 June 2011

Album review: DESTROYER - Kaputt

Highlights: Chinatown, Savage Night At The Opera, Suicide Demo For Kara Walker

For me Dan Bejar's music is most effective when least meandering – like Destroyer’s classic Streethawk: A Seduction (2001) or his consistently great contributions to The New Pornographers. On Kaputt, though, he goes for this reflective, sax-filled night-time mood that doesn’t necessarily mean sharper songs. To say nothing of more straightforward - but then Bejar has never been about conventional songwriting... 

Dan's main strength is his affluent way with vocal hooks; I’m talking about those catchy, whimsical lines that keep springing and creeping up like crazy. That “I heard your record it’s all right” lyric from “Savage Night At The Opera”, for instance. But Kaputt could be Destroyer's most expertly, elaborately produced album, so it also offers a number of brilliant instrumental passages. Among those I could mention the pretty flute lines in the slow, atmospheric “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker” (one of the record's highlights) as well as those saxophones, of course, that dominate huge sections of the record. 

And yet I feel slightly underwhelmed. By occasional lack of tunefulness, substance – best heard on the lengthy part-ambient/part-the usual epic closer, “Bay Of Pigs”. It suits the album’s mood fine, no doubt, and it still has plenty of Dan Bejar’s verbose, charismatic melodicism, but overall I guess that’s just a little too long-winded and yes, somewhat meandering. 

Still, I rather welcome this slight conceptual change. After all, if you love Bejar’s style, Kaputt will just keep oozing its poetic, stream-of-consciousness hooks and enchanting you with its nocturnal vibe. 


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