Bourgeois Canadian Befuddles Your Office Easy Listening, Sax Included

Destroyer
Kaputt
Merge

The New Pornographers are an easy band to like. The Vancouver band’s best album, 2005’s Twin Cinema, is chock-full of catchy melodies, likable power-pop aesthetics and just enough charm to separate it from alt-rock radio fodder. But on each New Pornographers record, there’s always a hint of eccentricity beneath the surface. That glimmer of weirdness is Dan Bejar. When not playing with the New Pornographers, Bejar composes complex, literate pop music under solo moniker Destroyer.

Bejar’s records, such as his 2008 opus Rubies, tend to sound like a drunk professor crooning over groovy, Bowie-style electric rock. While the “drunk professor” part of the equation is still firmly intact, Kaputt finds Bejar collaborating with several Vancouver-area electronic artists to produce music that falls somewhere between dentist’s office soft rock and the ambience of Aphex Twin. The setup sounds sketchy in print, but the results are oddly captivating.

On “Bay of Pigs,” a pre-release single and definite standout, Bejar spends two minutes crafting a gorgeous, minimalist soundscape before the vocals even begin. When he does come in, he does so in classic Destroyer style. “Listen,” he beckons, “I’ve been drinking.” He goes on to declare: “The world is black stones dressed up in the rain.” The song meanders for another eight minutes, with Bejar dropping similarly nebulous observations amid stark disco synthesizers.

Another standout is the dance floor-worthy title track, on which Bejar describes a man “chasing some girls, all right, chasing cocaine into the backrooms of the world” while funk-lite bass and smooth percussion hazily roll through the background.

His lyrics are vague — equally deserving of dismissal or unpacking upon each listen — and his sounds are bizarre, but with Kaputt, Destroyer still keeps you interested, crafting one of the best records of Bejar’s career. (8/10)

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