Kaputt – Destroyer (2011)

Kaputt album cover
Kaputt album cover

If you listen to the radio a lot, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the sharp witty singer-songwriter was a dying breed. After all many pop songs are written by writing/image making teams that churn out cookie cutter songs for any number of artist.

There is however a small minority who are blazing their own path with sophisticated poetry set to music. One of those is Canadian artist is Dan Bejar. He’s better known as Destroyer, one of the names he records under. I’ve only heard only a few Destroyer albums, each wildly different, but all sharing the smart songwriting of Bejar.

With his 10th release as Destroyer, Kaputt may be the band’s most cohesive sounding LP. Kaputt was one of those albums that sounds just out of time. It’s overall style is reminiscent of sophisti-pop from the late ’80s and early ’90s(Deacon Blue and Prefab Sprout), yet has a witty modern kind of witty sarcasm expected of English artist like Loyd Cole.

Under this framework other musical textures comes more ancient influences from David Bowie or Roxy Music. There’s even a bit of The Blue Nile thrown in thanks to the warmly familiar guitar-keyboard rhythm of  “Savage Night at the Opera”. Much of the album’s charms go far beyond the neo-retro keyboard sounds, although its possible to heal multiple influences all at once as in the wonderful “Song for America”.

Written in a stream of consciousness poetic style, Dan Bejar sings like an experienced and worldly observer with a kind of wit usually reserved for older more wiser rockers like Leonard Cohen.

In many ways Bejar reminds me of what the silly character from the  Dos Equis commercials The Most Interesting Man in the World might have written if he listened to rock music. It’s in part ridiculous at  times, yet is grounded in reality, often bitter and uncomfortable. The song “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” exemplifies this awkward juxtaposition. It’s an odd pairing with the artist who has made an mane for herself exposing racism and other societal ills.

The overall tone of the album is light despite some pointed observations. Much of this is due to yet another influence – possibly that of Robin Hitchcock, who Bejar sounds a lot like on tracks like “Poor In Love” and the wonderful title track Kaputt.

If you would like to hear the two or three genres over 20 years all condensed into one album, Kaputt is one of the few places to start. It’s Destroyer’s best album and may wear well over time due to it’s def remixing of classic influences.

 

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