Destroyer
Ken


4.0
excellent

Review

by Frippertronics CONTRIBUTOR (113 Reviews)
October 20th, 2017 | 353 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What comes round is going round again.

Ken, in taking from Dan Bejar’s self-described “Cure obsession”, immediately distances itself from the glitz and glamour of 2015’s Poison Season, straying from the cinematics of its predecessor and striving for the sparse, cold atmosphere of its new wave/gothic forefathers. In a recent interview regarding Ken, its inception came about coupled with Bejar’s curiosity of a question only he would ask: “How would a decrepit-sounding voice sing in a dark, New Romantic world"” Stripping back everything he had established in prior years with the smooth future disco aesthetic that permeated Kaputt; and the cinematics that, at times, dominated the infectively languorous Poison Season, Bejar’s approach on Ken is (as described by the man himself) more along the lines of 1998’s City of Daughters, dedicating itself to brevity rather than the cryptic and self-referential lyricism that is certainly by now a Destroyer trademark. Ken, for what it’s worth, is not a total and complete departure from anything Bejar has done before, having more in common with Kaputt and its credibly smart lyricism that borrows quite a bit from Bejar’s sophistipop muses Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout) and latter-day Roxy Music.

Throughout Ken, moments such as the opening verse in “Sometimes in the World” (“I can’t pay for this/All I’ve got is money”) only lend itself more to Bejar’s aptitude for bold, direct songwriting even when the music itself can seem a bit on the monotonous side and focuses more on building on the minimalist New Order pastiche that is undoubtedly the blueprint in which Bejar laid Ken upon. Lines such as “I’ve been working on the New Oliver Twist” and the titular couplet on closing track “La Regle du Jeu” both introduce an intoxicatingly catchy and hook-filled ideal to the Destroyer canon, often coupled with an entrancing backing that often forces you to pay attention to Bejar, almost if he were singing just for you. With these newfound elements in mind, Ken ultimately succeeds (and occasionally flounders when the arrangements get on the more blatant 80s worship side of things) when its penchant for unswerving bite-sized pop songs fully retain the charm that is associated with a Destroyer song, with “A Light Travels Down the Catwalk”, “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” and “In The Morning” flawlessly merging the sophistication of Bejar’s writing together with the simplicity of the straightforwardly retro sound that Ken has in spades.



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user ratings (68)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Haygoody (3.5)
Out on the streets, in The Book of the Dead...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

and like that, I'm burned out on Destroyer



Sky's Grey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNcY93meSlo

Tinseltown Swimming in Blood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-N6jfO5NOQ



Ken: http://exclaim.ca/music/article/destroyer-ken_album_stream

c/c appreciated because this probably ain't the greatest thing in the world

Dewinged
October 20th 2017


6402 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Took me a few spins for this to click. More than decent album, I very much like the dark approach in this. The closer specially is great.



Nice review Frip, 100% would pos.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Tower

AdolfChrist
October 20th 2017


12974 Comments


loved Poison Season, will definitely have to check this.

Digging: Palehorse/Palerider - Burial Songs

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd say Poison Season is the better album, although from the number of people expecting this to be another Kaputt, they will be a bit disappointed that this is not the case (thank god, because it's nice that from what I've heard and read, no Destroyer album sounds alike from one another; plus a Kaputt-lite would be lame)

AdolfChrist
October 20th 2017


12974 Comments


i actually liked PS a lot more.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Personally, I'd say Kaputt and Poison to be about on the same level, although I go back to Kaputt a lot more



however, Rubies is my favorite from all of his records I've heard; been a bit split on how I feel about Streethawk and Your Blues though

AdolfChrist
October 20th 2017


12974 Comments


Kaputt and Poison Season are really the only ones that did anything for me.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

My intention is to put out a guide like I did with David Sylvian earlier this month, so I need to dig through the early stuff before doing so. Plus, it's the right time with this coming out, although I'm probably going to take a break from anything Destroyer-related for a bit because I was going to lose my mind if I had to listen to this for the fifth time tonight just to write this.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


16376 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Spinning for the first time now...

Digging: Cathal Coughlan - The Sky's Awful Blue

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

oh dear, that.doof in with the 5



what trouble will this bring?

Lucid
October 20th 2017


8680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I find this quite listenable but hard to care about overall. Prob closer to a 3.5

I miss the immediacy of his Kaputt era but he seems disinterested in making songs like that anymore

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

a bit close to a 3.5 as well but the good songs on here are worth the bump although I can live without the New Order/Cure worship because it does get boring after a while

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


16376 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Only five songs in and two sound exactly like what he'd have put on 'Kaputt' though?



You can't really judge any Bejar song until you can recite every lyric - ever was it thus. A week of listening and I'll know just how good this is.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


16376 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is definitely better than 'Poison Season'...and I have 'Poison Season' at a 4.5.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Only five songs in and two sound exactly like what he'd have put on 'Kaputt' though?"



which ones because out of all of the songs I could see on Kaputt would be Rome



but better than Poison Season? no way, this doesn't top TIMES SQUAREEEEEEEEEE

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


16376 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well, uh, 'Sky's Grey' for a start. Also that first pre release tune. This album is very 'Kaputt'-y to my ears full stop. Hasn't got the female backing vox again - I swear that's what people miss on his later stuff.



Production sounds fuller/warmer on this compared to 'Poison Season' which was more brittle/'chamber' style.



This definitely has 5 potential for me, I just get that feeling. The song writing sounds buried - EXACTLY like on 'Kaputt'. This is a good thing.





Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

new lyric on next destroyer album



"fuck it, I must 5 everything"



in true Destroyer fashion

Dewinged
October 20th 2017


6402 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've read Sky's Grey's lyrics like 10 times and I have absolutely NO idea what the hell is Ben telling me.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2017


15095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

that's Destroyer

zakalwe
October 20th 2017


23350 Comments


Now this is some serious flouncy, mincey, college level prattle that makes me want to scream ‘get a fuckin job’ into this fellas foundation pampered face. Having said that there is some substance here I can sense it.



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