Label: Merge Records
Release Date: January 25, 2011
2006′s Destroyer’s Rubies was the first Destroyer album I got into, but not my first Destroyer experience. My first Destroyer experience was seeing him open for The New Pornographers on their Twin Cinema tour (2005? Early 2006?). I was not impressed. He was mumbling, unenthusiastic and kind of grating. I was even more confused/disappointed when I found out he was in The New Pornographers on some songs. I later found out he was sick at that show, but still… not a great first impression.
Since then, he has become my favorite part of The New Pornographers, and his mumbling and melancholy have become some of my favorite attributes of his work. Kaputt marks Dan Bejar’s 9th (NINTH!!) album under the Destroyer moniker, which he began recording under in 1996. He has also been part of a couple notable side projects (both “canadian indie super groups”, The New Pornographers and Swan Lake). That’s a lot of work.
I’ve made a pass at getting into about half of the Destroyer albums and have become especially fond of Rubies, Streethawk: A Seduction, and Thief. I am also amused by, but would be frightened to play the Destroyer Drinking Game (rules posted at the bottom of this post). This game, on paper serves as a pretty compressive appendix to the contents of 90% of Destroyer songs. In practice, it would serve as a quick way to die.
Let’s start with the end and work our way backward. 13+ minute monster, “Bay of Pigs” is worth the price of admission to this album. Originally released as a single in August of 2009, this is presumably the oldest track on the album, definitely the longest and without a doubt the best. It also sticks out, not so much like a sore thumb but more like a giant would stick out at the end of a line of eight regular sized people. It looms over the rest of the album, and also feels a bit out of place. Once you’ve heard Bay of Pigs, the rest of the album almost feels like it is wasting your time.
For being 13 minutes long, Bay of Pigs never feels like it drags at all. The mood is constantly shifting, the tempo is changing, the instrumentation varies. It all feels like one really well put together masterpiece, full of classic Bejar Non sequiturs like “You’ve got to spend money to make money/you’ve got to quit calling me honey” (again, see drinking game rules below)
What’s left of the other eight tracks? A lot of 70s & 80s smooth jazz. If you are used to Bejar’s voice, there is nothing abrasive about this album at all. More than anything, there is a lot of saxophone. On the first couple listens, the first eight tracks of this CD did nothing for me. It sounded cheesy, hollow and kind of silly.
Upon later listens however, I found things to like in all of the songs and now I’d say the whole thing has generally won me over. Top tracks for me include Chinatown, Blue Eyes, Poor In Love, and Kaputt. Speaking of Kaputt, this weird music video:
So, if that tickles your fancy, you’ll probably like the whole album. For me, I didn’t enjoy it immediately, but the time invested in getting into it was well worth the effort.
Approved by 7 out of 10 wealthy american undergrounds
Download this here
As promised, The Destroyer Drinking Game
Drink if there is a… (deep breath)