MAGNET’s #18 Album Of 2015: Destroyer’s “Poison Season”

Destroyer

Dan Bejar has evolved from being a cranky, brilliant word guy to a sophisticated, brilliant bandleader, and the ch-ch-changes have been a joy to experience. 2011’s breakthrough Kaputt signaled the shift as it reveled in the smooth stylings (complete with sax solos) defined by Roxy Music’s Avalon. Poison Season has some of that same suave aesthetic, but it pushes in new and exciting directions, sometimes relying on classical string quartets, sometimes revving up into the rock ‘n’ soul territory of Bowie’s Young Americans or early Springsteen. In other hands, these decidedly unhip signifiers could seem ironic, but Bejar plays them straight, diving deeply. The words are pared back and cryptic, and he sings, rather than declaims them. It’s long been clear that Bejar is a chameleon who can write catchy pop songs (witness his trio of tunes on each New Pornographers album), but on Poison Season, he finds the sweet spot between crafting memorable hooks—“Dream Lover” is one of his catchiest—and leaving open spaces for the band to stretch out. The music says as much as the words; until recently, that would have been a shocking thing to say about a Destroyer album. —Steve Klinge

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