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…