I put on Destroyer's newest release in the car the other day, left the volume on low, and promptly forgot about the album. The next day I went out to go pick my sister up at the airport, I wondered how Liz had got a muzak installed in our car over night without me knowing (joke!). But seriously, from the outset of this album it sounds like Dan Bejar has channeled his inner-Will-Ferrel-Yazz-Flute, or was contracted to write the score for a teen drama circa 1985 and then decided to write lyrics over the music.
The bizarre part of all this, gentle ribbing aside, is that it absolutely works and this album is certainly a front runner for album of the year. Yes, it's early, but Kaputt is absolutely stellar.
Bejar's songs have always been my favourites off all of the New Pornographers albums, but I've felt like that's mostly because he's been restrained by Carl Newman's pop-sensibility. Most often (with the exception of Destroyer's Rubies and "An Actor's Revenge") his music has gone over my head. I've thought, he's an interesting lyricist, he's got an interesting cadence to his voice, but... meh. Maybe it's just that I'm too low brow and need at least some semblance of a hook or chorus in my songs.
I'm convinced that at least half my adoration for this album comes from the fact that it's a light, breezy, sort of album which is perfect for the weather here in Durham, NC today: shorts, flip flops, and windows down in the car. The other part, I think, is that the album draws you in with a really easy, steady rhythm at the beginning. The light snare (?), the synth noises, seem like the perfect fit for Bejar to wander with his often bizarre and cryptic lyrics.
That steady rhythm seems to permeate through the entire album, and that rhythm gives Bejar the leeway to freelance. And the album has that feel to it, fresh, almost like it's unscripted. Like the way that I imagine great jazz comes together -- where the drummer starts off with a beat, and then the other musicians come in and layer on top of each other. The last layer being Bejar, who's vocals sound like half lounge singer and half poet.
The moral of the story is, give it a chance. I always find that these types of albums, the ones that sound like they're going to be terrible -- either by their description, or by your first impression of the first few notes -- are often the ones you become the most attached to. I'm attached to this one.
... at least the first minute and a half of the video is worth watching even if you want nothing to do with the album... eat your heart out Napoleon Dynamite...