Destroyer: Kaputt

January 31, 2011

Destroyer - Kaputt Album Cover

Artist: Destroyer
Album: Kaputt
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:

Destroyer – Kaputt from Merge Records on Vimeo.

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
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As promised, The Destroyer Drinking Game

(originally from the Merge Forums (link now dead), by way of, by way of Zolius)

Drink if there is a… (deep breath)

  • Mention of a previous album or song title;
  • Recycling or referring to lyrics of another Destroyer song; drink twice if it’s a song on the same album; also drink twice if they’re from pre-official releases We’ll Build Them a Golden Bridge or Ideas for Songs;
  • Reference to or appropriation of lyrics from a song by someone else;
  • Mention of another band or musician;
  • Mention of Destroyer/destroy/destruction – drink twice;
  • Reference to music in general;
  • Reference to/attack on the music scene or music industry;
  • “Meta” lyrics that refer to the song in progress or elements thereof – drink twice;
  • Swearing;
  • Mention of geographical location – drink twice for mentions of Vancouver, the West Coast, or particular places there;
  • Section of song consisting of “la la la” or “la-da-dee-da” etc. (warning: applies to all but four songs on Destroyer’s Rubies)
  • Guitar solo that mirrors la-la-la’s;
  • Mention of a season or month of the year;
  • Mention of a specific year or century;
  • Line in the imperative form, giving advice or an order – drink twice for advice or order that is cryptically figurative, like “don’t ride the silver rocket”;
  • Line that reverses, contradicts or severely qualifies previous line;
  • Character(s) in song quoted (eg. “She tasted of the Christmas wines and said, ‘So many things have run through me…’ “) – drink twice if the character is specified to be singing the quotation;
  • Invocation of a cliche or idiom, however dismantled;
  • Use of a woman’s name;
  • Character assassination – drink twice if of a woman;
  • Characterization (hostile or not) of men/boys or women/girls in general;
  • Conspicuously long pause (line break?) in the middle of a phrase;
  • Falsetto or attempted falsetto;
  • Sudden crescendo and/or acceleration;
  • Use of archaic or ostentatiously formal or foreign-language term;
  • Direct address to an audience by name or collective noun eg. “kids…” or “Contessa…” (“you” doesn’t count);
  • Reference to visual art or artist(s);
  • Literary reference or mention of reading;
  • General statement about art/aesthetics;
  • Reference to family relationship, eg. brother, mother, husband, bride – drink twice for “sister,” or for any plural family reference, eg. “fathers”, or for incestuous overtones;
  • Reference to United States or Americanness;
  • Medieval or swords-and-sorcery-style reference;
  • Reference to royalty or feudal hierarchy – drink twice for reference to disillusionment with royalty;
  • Reference to legal or political system;
  • Reference to religion;
  • Reference to a small group or secret society;
  • Reference to conspiracy or corruption;
  • Reference to honesty (or lack thereof);
  • Reference to freedom or imprisonment;
  • Reference to drinking;
  • Reference to insanity;
  • Reference to death or murder;
  • Reference to the way a woman moves;
  • Reference to bells;
  • Reference to the sea or matters nautical;
  • Reference to a garden or the woods;
  • Reference to the weather, meteorological phenomena, sun or snow;
  • Reference to fire or other disaster – drink twice for apocalyptic reference;
  • Sudden shift into unexpectedly sweet, tender tone, musically or rhetorically.
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    3 Responses to “Destroyer: Kaputt”

    1. […] Skip to content HomeAbout ← Destroyer: Kaputt February 3, 2011 · 8:10 pm ↓ Jump to […]

    2. […] My initial review of Destroyer – Kaputt […]

    3. […] display. Which is to say that, 10 years since it was first inscribed into internet lore, playing the Destroyer drinking game while giving Poison Season a spin remains about as deadly a proposition as playing Russian Roulette […]

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