Destroyer — despite its metal-sounding name — has been unleashing some of the best and brightest chamber pop since its formation in 1995. Frontman and chief songwriter Dan Bejar has taken time out since to contribute to supergroups The New Pornographers and Swan Lake, but has steadily streamed new tunes through Destroyer, including 2008’s acclaimed “Trouble in Dreams.”
The follow-up, “Kaputt,” is a stark departure from the rambling folk-pop tunes that characterized that effort, but the result is well-done, dramatic and admirably fresh.
Like mall music bleeding into some hipster’s iPod as he’s headed toward American Apparel, “Kaputt” manages to feel both dated and hip at the same time — no easy feat. It’s as if Kenny G got a taste for Neon Indian, ate a mushroom and got down … the sort of elevator music I’d expect at Urban Outfitters’ headquarters.
The smooth and airy “Chinatown” is your proper introduction to what I’m going to go ahead and coin “mallwave.” The sensuous jazz melody is great, but the New Age saxophone blasts toward the end really impart that touch of class. “Blue Eyes” is a suitable counterpart with a slightly funkier stamp to it, while the later pairing of “Downtown” and “Song for America” rekindle a love for early ’80s disco ballads through a drug-adled haze.
The album’s two longest efforts — “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” and the closer “Bay of Pigs (Detail)” — both allow ample room to really explore the sound and dive in the deepest, most noticeably in the starry, swear-laden bridges of “Bay.”
It’s the boiling, romantic “Savage Night at the Opera” that really encapsulates the vibe best, devoting itself fully to decades before while pushing past the one in which we currently reside.
If nothing else, it’s worth a listen for being entirely different, but it’s truly good enough to move beyond the kitsch factor. If only all shopping centers played music this great. —Joshua Boydston