Destroyer – The Laziest River

destroyer_kaputt

When I purchased the 2lp edition of Destroyer‘s 2011 pop masterpiece Kaputt, I had no idea that the bonus track promised on side C would slowly become the languid circulatory system of the entire album.

It swims in an embryonic well from which the other tracks drink, all held breath and deep plunge. It’s patient and fragile, and just may comprise twenty of my favorite minutes.

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BEST OF 2011

In 2011, like every year since I’ve discovered how to harness the power of the internet (and a handful of discerning friends) to expand my horizons and unveil whole dimensions of music, has been an incredible year for listening: another slab in my monument to Why You Should Pay Attention.  I held crushes on a number of albums and fell deeply in love with a select few.  All deserve acknowledgement but only the most striking motivate me to gush at length.  With a little luck, I can turn people on to something which will enrich their lives and change perceptions in small or significant ways.  Or maybe even sell an album for one of these deserving artists!

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Destroyer – Savage Night At The Opera

This video dropped halfway through the year and I feel terrible for failing to share it immediately.  The song is one of 9 front-to-back highlights on a pop masterpiece I wrote about in February and the video is something odd and special, inventive and thoughtful.  And unexpected.  And fun.

Yes, this is a first person race through the streets of Vancouver on a fast motorcycle.  The driver blasts through stoplights and throughfares with abandon and although the imagery pairing with this song feels arbitrary at first, the conclusion leaves no doubt as to its artistic intent.  It reminds me of Gran Turismo and Stockholm Getaway and my own attempts at taping rides through the city (albeit on a bicycle, in my case).  This is an experience, as much as the song (and album) itself is a blistering neon-lit ride through a dark night of Dan Bejar’s soul.  Watch to the end.

Speaking of bicycle rides, I wish this was me:

Destroyer – Kaputt

Before 2011, I had heard one Destroyer album, Your Blues.  I recalled a very baroque yet earnest ballad named The Music Lovers, and nothing else.  I thought of Dan Bejar (the sole permanent member) as part of an indie pop milieu I haven’t found interesting in years.  Thankfully, Destroyer changed and I was wrong.  Kaputt is a utopian vision of space-age late night electronic jazz pop.

 

First I’ll mention the atmosphere: as lush as a Ferrari made of diamonds, parked near a waterfall…  bathed in the neon glow of some not-too-distant future.  Every reverb-laden trumpet blast and bright synth line feels magnified, submerged in the liquid cool of Kaputt’s immaculate production.  Some have mentioned the album conjuring memories of the 80s and I can’t disagree;  I think it’s more to do with the painstaking detail of the recording than any genre the band nods toward.   It was a time, after all, when ambitious pop albums were a slightly more common sighting.

If you’re familiar with Miles Davis‘ monumental Bitches Brew, you’ll have some idea of the tone and color the omnipresent trumpet takes on as it darts through the album from beginning to end.  Muted and echoed at godlike levels, it’s an apparition as much as a driving force.  Accenting and elevating the songs, highlighting the utopian feel, it’s a major aspect in cementing this sound in memory.  Another is Bejar’s voice.  With a deliver both earnest  and cool, his affecting lyrics take impressionistic flights spiked with lump-in-throat moments which remind us: he’s not just our tour guide on this  twilit adventure, he’s sharing the story of how we got here.

This chilled out, slickly psychedelic album is polished pop of the highest order.  Crackling with an energy and intricacy unheard of in Bejar’s (former) circles, it unapologetically stands out with a crystaline picture of a time we’re not living in.  For me, it’s the future.  I’m sure this has something to do with my upbringing in the aforementioned decade; this is how the future was supposed to sound then!  You may hear the past.  Either is a fantasy wholly worth inhabiting.

If you’re like me, you may need more assurance that this isn’t the tired indie pop you may expect (or fear) it to be.  So try this:

On second thought, everyone watch that.  One of the most original, thrilling, and straight up funny music videos I’ve seen in a long time.  80’s girls with wet hair, desert mirages, and flying whales!  Wow.  That just made me like this even more.  Anyway…

[you can get this straight from label merge, or even at amazon]