[sic] Magazine

Destroyer – Kaputt

It’s a safe bet the fear of God is put into anyone coming across a one-sheet offering Simply Red by way of comparison. Hold on to your hats, for the one that comes with Destroyer ‘s Kaputt also readily puts forward Steely Dan and Sade too. It is with massive relief then that, amidst the very questionable waters of ‘82/’83, Kaputt is diluted with flourishes attributable to comparative musical deities Roxy Music and New Order – the latter of whom’s soft bass falls can firmly be heard marking out their territory on “Savage Night At The Opera”, if not elsewhere.

Consequently, Kaputt is somehow landed between the surprising success of Gayng ‘s recent 10cc -homage Relayted and Twin Shadow ‘s equally recent and smooth, retro disco. Suffice it to say, his work with The New Pornographers included, Dan Bejar has come a long way since 1996’s We’ll Build Them A Golden Bridge .

Once a challenge, Bejar’s voice is now relaxed, almost velvet-like, so too his chosen medium – for example, “Song For America” comes on, in part at least, like Bill Withers ‘ much-sampled “Lovely Day”. As a result, Kaputt is by far the easiest listening LP in the Destroyer catalogue, but only the hasty would say the best. Finding its home in soft rock, light jazz and pop, not to mention 2011’s must-have touchstones the saxophone and fretless bass, this is a record as likely to earn an army of haters as it is an ocean of plaudits.

Firmly dating the work, Bejar’s wistful title track lists period publications: “ Sounds, Smash Hits, Melody Maker and NME “. Earlier, “Blue Eyes” even goes so far as to crowbar direct name-checking of electro-synth poppers Yello , as well as the aforementioned collective led by Hook and Sumner. As a tune however, its pleasing hooks, along with Bejar and Sibel Thrasher ‘s rhythmic vocal interplay, start to reveal Kaputt as more than the sum of its parts.

Near glowing with warmth and charm, this is anything but an indulgent mick-take. The care Bejar has taken in not allowing his album the full run of the early 80s is impressive. In being selective, the Pet Shop Boys -like jazz-pop of the opener “Chinatown” (when it gets going) isn’t anywhere near as rubbish as it should be. In fact, it’s rather accomplished.

Also featuring Thrasher, the dreamy “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” (an experimental collaboration with the artist of the same name) also catches the ear. Starting with slow paced, echoing guitar plucks and mesmeric flute it takes over eight minutes to fulfil its smoky groove. Yet, it’s nothing compared to the epic “Bay Of Pigs”, a track which first appeared as a single in 2009. Understandably bringing proceedings to a close, its eleven minutes ebb, flow and clap like a late-night FM jam, encompassing all that Kaputt has to offer before it and then some.

There’s a reason a lot of easy listening was consigned to the bargain bin, and it takes a master craftsmen to even think of salvaging from its wreckage. Make no mistake, Kaputt is a project complex in nature – one difficult to steer to shore – and it is triumph enough that Bejar never lost sight of land during its completion.

Advised downloads: “Blue Eyes” and “Savage Night At The Opera”.

~Kaputt is out now on Merge , and is released in the UK on June 13th 2011 on Dead Oceans .~