Destroyer
Kaputt


4.5
superb

Review

by Daniel Smith USER (21 Reviews)
February 10th, 2011 | 4 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dan Bejar does a little digging in the dust...

I have a vision that, ten years or so down the road, The Weather Channel’s Local on the 8s segment will feature selections from Destroyer’s Kaputt as background muzak. In other words, I foresee Canadian musician Dan Bejar’s current artistic direction as an unknowing self-invitation to the place where soft rock goes to die and be forgotten. Or maybe I’m wrong, completely backwards: it’s possible, I suppose, that the title of Bejar’s brass and disco laden opus is the key to the irony behind the album’s anachronistic sound. Either way, whether Kaputt finds itself in the eventual company of the computer-generated voice who provides your daily forecast or not, it doesn’t deserve that; no, sir, no, ma’am. Against all odds, the lovesick New Pornographer takes a stylistic detour through the overgrown woods of datedness and comes out the other side with a sturdy walking stick carved from the bark of decades past. And if you want, he’ll lend it to you, and then you too can travel retrograde, musically and emotionally, to a private little yesterday just as beautiful as it is sorrowful.

As it turns out, Bejar’s atypical brew of gratuitous saxophone, glittery synthesizers, Lynchian atmosphere, and poetic introspection doesn’t just prosper; on occasion, such as on the pivotal “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker,” Kaputt soars. After two haunting minutes of ambient melancholy, Bejar stumbles into the picture, rattling off cryptic line after cryptic line of drunken despondency. Lyrically, “Suicide Demo” is no more than a stitched quilt of freefalling abstractions, but it’s that very looseness, when paired with Dan Bejar’s slippery voice, that adds living, breathing feeling. “All of America live to light his pipe at night,” Bejar slurs before desperately exhaling, “to which Dixie responds: ‘Free me.’” It is the sound of a soul baring itself naked, not wanting to be understood but to be felt, for only then can its passion be fathomed. The track’s final stretch, a glorious “Fake Empire” wall of cascading horns, drives the point home: Kaputt doesn’t breathe life into the defunct but breathes a living into it, and there’s a fine difference between the two.

Unfortunately, Kaputt is not without minor shortcomings; late-album cut “Song for America” revisits the record’s seven preceding songs and rests on their laurels without adding anything particularly new to Destroyer’s bag of tricks. On the other hand, there’s “Poor in Love,” a tune brimming with promise but which ultimately fails to combine constituent ideas: rather than aggregating, they build up to a half climax, then sputter out without real resolution. It’s a frustrating letdown, more vignette than song, especially after the perfect “Suicide Demo,” but perhaps Bejar intended for it to do just that – to clear the air, so to speak. Likewise, Kaputt’s derivative penultimate track makes the eleven-minute “Bay of Pigs” all the more astonishing. Released in an early version on a 2009 EP, “Pigs” takes the fabric of nearly everything that makes Kaputt what it is, and turns it inside-out. With a sprawling, sonic sigh, filtered through the usual soft rock medium, the album’s structure comes crashing down, leaving a single lonely word: kaput.

In the end, Destroyer’s masterwork, an immaculate mess of contradictions, loses itself to its creator’s brilliant grief; its spark, born of a stale, lifeless genre, is but a spark, bright for a second but wholly transient. Here is an album – that is, a portfolio of musical works supporting each other for that sense of finality, of closure, which comes with natural identity. In the 3D-movie era, where torpid excess is all the rage, Dan Bejar does a little digging in the dust and discovers that’s where the spirit dwells, indeed.



Recent reviews by this author
The Flaming Lips The TerrorOf Montreal Paralytic Stalks
Brad Paisley This Is Country MusicFucked Up David Comes to Life
Panda Bear TomboyTalking Heads Talking Heads: 77
user ratings (456)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • robin EMERITUS (5)
    LISTEN. I've been drinking...

    Tom Gellatly (5)
    A gorgeous album in virtually every respect, Kaputt sees Dan Bejar toning down some of the...

    Blair Chopin (5)
    I wrote a song for America, they told me it was clever. Jessica's gone on vacation on t...

    koryrobinson (4)
    Destroyer creates relaxing and meditative pop....

  • Keelan H. EMERITUS (5)
    Destroyer continue to map out unexpected territories with referential landmarks, with magn...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2011


7025 Comments


Song For America is one of my favorites. Good review.

Drsmith4
February 10th 2011


1719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hate how much smaller the paragraphs look on Sputnik than they do on Word.

scissorlocked
February 11th 2011


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that's terribly true^

Good review man,the album is enjoyable,especially in the morning

you should try it



Digging: Low Roar - Low Roar

STOP SHOUTING!
February 11th 2011


639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

nicely written doctor, but there were a few bits i didn't get, like this: "but it’s that very looseness, when paired with Dan Bejar’s slippery voice, that adds living, breathing feeling";
or this: "doesn’t breathe life into the defunct but breathes a living into it";
or this: "its spark, born of a stale, lifeless genre, is but a spark, bright for a second but wholly transient";
or this: "Here is an album – that is, a portfolio of musical works supporting each other for that sense of finality, of closure, which comes with natural identity".
you summarise as "an immaculate mess of contradictions", but you don't seem to explain what those contradictions are.





You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy