Destroyer – Kaputt

There’s a little seen Youtube clip from 2009 of Destroyer’s Dan Bejar performing a then new song called ‘Chinatown’ during an acoustic set in Dallas.

It’s a beautiful song, one of his best. But what the audience and the clip’s small Youtube viewer numbers cannot have guessed was how it, along with eight other tracks that made it onto Kaputt, would be transformed within 18 months into Bejar’s best album to date.

Since trailing this track live Bejar hit on the idea of incorporating more than a little 1980s production style. It was a masterstroke as the era’s sax and trumpet sounds interweave perfectly with the  New Order style bass lines and Prefab Sprout-esque harmonies.

All the time Bejar’s unmistakable throaty vocals, like an aged rock star looking back at his 80s heyday, delivers his trademark clever lyrics. It’s of course just an act, as he was barely into his teens at the height of New Order and Prefab Sprout’s fame, but it’s a role he performs admirably.

Time and again in reviews of this album the same message rings out loud and clear “this album has such a great feel to it”  and this review wholeheartedly backs that view.

Not only does Kaputt feature some of Bejar’s best songs, like ‘Chinatown,’ but the production is stunning. The horn section drifts over the music beautifully creating from start to finish a remarkable album, leaving the listener desperate for more, and that is even after the 11 minute plus final track ‘Bay of Pigs (Detail)’.

There’s a nice progression on the album as well, like an 80s stream of consciousness. For example when New Order gets a mention on ‘Blue Eyes’ the next track ‘Savage Night at the Opera’ becomes a full blown homage to the band, with its unmistakable Peter Hook bass line and Bernard Sumner guitar riff.

This 1980s love-in was achieved with similar success by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti on last year’s Before Today. Those that enjoyed that album, or Steve McQueen by Prefab Sprout, or indeed Roxy Music’s work of the early 1980s, will adore Kaputt.

Despite enjoying his previous albums as Destroyer and work with The New Pornographers, I’ve always had criticisms. Sometimes Bejar’s lyrics and melodies were too meandering. Those faults have been eradicated here, with Kaputt using his meandering style to full effect to create one of 2011’s first contenders for album of the year.


by Joe Lepper


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