Destroyer, Kaputt [2011]

In Reviews on 25 March 2011 at 23:36

They say fashion goes in cycles. Something turns up, gets popular, trends die and then come back twenty years later. It works not only for clothes, but for the music as well. We have had some examples in the past: the raw bluesy sound introduced by The White Stripes, the disco influences, the garage rock, New Order reincarnation in every possible way… You can name numbers of styles once abandoned only to return in glory. Are we experiencing the comeback of lite-jazz-synth-pop era with a little help from Dan Bejar? Maybe.

Kaputt is Destroyer’s ninth album, a successful compilation of retro soul and proper pop sound with an addition of foggy saxophone and a bit of funk. It opens with a smooth rock Chinatown: catchy melody and lyrics: I know you and I know the score / I can’t walk away / You can’t walk away, set the mood right from the start. By the time we get to lovely Blue Eyes, it is already certain we will be experiencing tunes intensly influenced by the eighties’ pop of bands such as The Prefab Sprout mixed with a taste of soft jazz. Bejar never crosses the thin line between pleasure and kitch though. It is the middle of Kaputt that introduces the most intriguing parts of the record. Suicide Demo For Kara Walker, which begins as a tribute to Miles Davis, then transforms into pure pop. Nostalgic Poor In Love with its touching lyrics [Why does everybody sing along / When we built this city on ruins] and guitars reminding of best pieces by The Wedding Present. And finally, one of the singles promoting the album, the title track accompanied by a teenage crazy dream video. The grande finale of Kaputt is a nearly twelve minute long Bay Of Pigs. To say it is epic, is to underestimate. I do not believe many artists are capable of pulling of a track this complicated. Mutiple layers, sudden changes of moods and tempo, the electronic beat in the background establish Destroyer’s position of one of the most incredible chameleons of our times. While the overall sound is quite predictable from the moment we hear the first track, the lyrics on the other hand amaze with its clever observations and canny tricks. We got used to that, listenig to previous Destroyer’s albums and he does not fail now either. The only thing that spoils the perfect picture is the flat dimension of the drums. Given more depth, it would compliment the melodies better. Instead, it just flows in the background, with no particular meaning.

The problem with such vintage inspirations is the similarity that kills innovation. Obviously, we have heard this all before. It is not the case here: Dan Bejar managed to embrace so many different shades and styles, it became a brand new sound. Refreshed retro, but surprisingly contemporary. It stands out, it pleases, it seduces with the beauty of soft and mellow melodies. Let Kaputt take you on this trip to the lost lands of Sade and Roxy Music. What sounded kitchy years ago, now got itself a different point of reference.


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