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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Destroyer - Kaputt: A-

Dan Bejar, ringmaster of Destroyer, has expressed in recent interviews his distaste for the present and future of music, presenting a very thick “fuck it all” demeanor towards the process of writing and recording his own albums and the listening of recent ones he’s heard. As much as I enjoy Kaputt, Bejar’s tenth album under the Destroyer moniker, I find it nearly impossible to extricate the impression Behar gives off in interviews from the music he has chosen to release. “I write poetry for myself,” Bejar sings within the first couple seconds of second track, “Blue Eyes”, as if he wants the listener to know right off the bat that he could give a shit if you liked this album or not. It’s a characterization that does not change as Kaputt progresses.

To be fair, though, Bejar does show a sort of character arc in Kaputt in that he transitions from a bored curmudgeon to a pessimistic savant. “New York City just wants to see you naked / And they will,” Behar sings in the eight and a half minute “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker”, as if he’s seen dozens of girls resign to the same fate as the one he describes in the song. The first thing Bejar says on the album’s title track is “Wasting your days / Chasing some girls alright / Chasing cocaine to the back rooms of the world all night,” as if he’s talking down some big-headed indie rocker who has the gall to think he can make it in this business. His voice keeps a melody throughout the album, but is barely ever raised slightly above the intonation of sarcasm. And yet I find some way to enjoy it. I can understand if people were to find fault with it, but the reason why I don’t mind it so much is that, when Bejar raises that voice, it is to great effect, most notably on the dive into a synth breakdown in “Downtown” once Bejar sings “Red rover on his way over to your place!” in one of the few enthusiastic moments his voice observes.

Musically, Kaputt mines the territory of 70’s soft rock, the type of malaise that you would expect someone like Behar to make, and the music does fit his nasally monotone, wonderfully. Set aside Bejar’s vocals, though, and Kaputt is an excellently produced album, featuring a revolving door of instruments, effects and voices that I’m sure will leave no one starving for content. My personal favorite sound on Kaputt is the guitar chug in “Downtown”, but I’m sure many will find completely different parts of the album to claim as their favorites. It’s a testament to how varied Behar’s creativity on Kaputt is, although, ostensibly, you might think otherwise. The album is so overflowing with so many interesting sounds, many spill out in songs where they have little business being. At the end of “Savage Night at the Opera”, there is a barely audible synth throb that, whenever I listen to it, I think the song is going to start up again in an “I Wonder” by Kanye West kind of situation, but the song just simply ends. The single guitar note played at the end of “Poor in Love” is the same way. Something like that would frustrate me to no end and would take me completely out of an album, but Kaputt is unique in that it’s hard to complain about the flood of ideas given such a bountiful feast Behar presents that would satisfy any audiophile.

This aesthetic reaches its peak in Kaputt’s closer, “Bay of Pigs (Detail)”, a multi-part suite that clocks in at more than eleven minutes. The song’s first four are spent pensively building ambience, while Bejar admits that he’s been drinking and goes on two separate stream-of-consciousness asides before synths penetrate the atmospherics, only to disappear as quickly as they arrived. Then, bass drum is added to the mix, along with more intrusive synths until eventually guitars overtake the track and bring it into an actual song for its last three and half minutes. Needless to say, it’s a journey of a song, but its disparate sections summarize Behar’s restlessness quite well. I may not agree with the guy’s worldview, but if Behar’s inclination is to drop what he feels is a pointless album like Kaputt every so often on us undeserving masses, I can afford to hear a dissenting opinion from time to time.


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