in Review

Destroyer – Poison Season

Dan Bejar strikes me as a hard nut to crack, and I’ve got to believe he’d like to keep it that way.  Because I wouldn’t say I’ve done enough digging on his band Destroyer to figure out where exactly this dude is coming from, but I can recognize he has this potent way of writing songs that are both vulnerable and cooly detached enough that they seem to lure you in while also keeping you at a distance.  Being that I came to his off-and-on collaborators The New Pornographers a bit late, I also ended up coming to his Destroyer stuff a bit late, and though his shadowy presence in the band does seem like a bit of an odd one in retrospect, I think it makes sense.  Bejar does write pop songs after all, it’s just that he has a strange way of constantly challenging which way he wants to interpret these songs.  Which sometimes ends up as this sloppily arty brand of indie rock (like his earlier records), sometimes ends up sounding like ’80s yacht rock (like his last album, Kaputt), and sometimes ends up sounding like his most recent album Poison Season, an almost Sinatra-y collection of string-laden serenades.

Maybe it’s a testament to Bejar’s willingness to mix things up with each record that I’m not entirely crazy about every iteration of Destroyer that I’ve heard.  Since despite being one of the more acclaimed albums of his career (many say it’s his best), I still haven’t quite been able to get into Kaputt, though I haven’t given up on trying.  Unsurprisingly, I’m a much bigger fan of the more electric guitar-based sounds of Destroyer’s earlier albums, while Kaputt feels just a little too light and airy for my tastes (which I get is kind of the whole point of that album, so maybe this one’s just one me).  Poison Season, while similar in tone, I find a little more enjoyable, because even though it is persistently soothing (save for the exuberant “Dream Lover”), Bejar’s ear for melody remains willfully intact, and the album’s orchestral approach supports it quite nicely.

I’m also realizing I might not be connecting with this album as much as I should be because I may have bought it in the wrong format.  You see, I bought this thing on CD for one because my dumbass internet/cable provider (you can probably guess which dumbass internet/cable provider) bitched me out for torrenting recently, and also because CD is cheaper than vinyl obviously.  But since the car is the only place I really listen to CDs, Poison Season has for the most part been driving music for me, even despite the fact that it’s probably not great driving music.  Much like Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours, this strikes me as an album that probably holds up best when you’re in your room alone late at night before going to bed, and the more I listen to this album in that context, it starts to make a little more sense to me.  Whether I’ll be able to completely crack it open remains to be seen, but much like the rest of the Destroyer catalogue, I guess that’s just all part of the game.

Favorite Tracks: “Dream Lover”, “Times Square”, “Bangkok”