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.
, 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.