Review: Destroyer – Kaputt

When musicians release their latest album, the usual promises come out that “this is the best one yet” and “this band has reached their peak”. When the new record in question is your ninth though, that belief will inevitably slide. To my knowledge, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar has not made this statement anyway but ‘Kaputt’ has been praised almost universally by the music press and it’s easy to understand why.

Bejar’s voice is an unusual instrument; he sings in the style of a relaxed yet world-weary Frenchman (he’s Canadian). The music undoubtedly evokes the 1980’s but in its most understated form. Some of the arrangements are exquisite, with liberal use of brass instruments and there’s a consistent lush atmosphere which compares favourably with the production expertise of The Blue Nile; particularly for the nocturnally-flavoured ‘Downtown’. There’s also room for New Order-style bass on ‘Savage Night At The Opera’.

As this edition is a seventy minute album, there is plenty of time for Bejar to build mood and scenery. The first time he really uses this is for ‘Suicide Demo for Kara Walker’ where the subtle melodies (flute, sax, horns all to the fore) echoes the majesty of Prefab Sprout before Bejar calmly recites some free association lyrics written by Waker herself; a contemporary African American artist. Surprisingly, it sounds wonderful. The last two tracks take up nearly half an hour alone but there’s a sense of yearning and dreaminess to ‘The Laziest River’ and ‘Bay Of Pigs (Detail)’ which adds to the record’s languid but ultimately romantic feel.

It’s fair to say that the album is longer than it should be (original versions omitted at least one of the last two tracks) but those long instrumental segments, which would be superfluous indulgence in lesser hands, are beautifully developed. Bejar gathers together all the song elements with an expert hand, presumably skilled to perfection after all his experience with previous records. So regardless of how long it’s taken to reach this standard, at least this great album is with us now.

Web Sites:
Destroyer Artist Page

Further Listening:
The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout


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