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Destroyer - Poison Season (Album Review)

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 Written by Graeme Marsh

Along with stints elsewhere, most notably as a member of the New Pornographers, Dan Bejar has been knocking out albums under the Destroyer moniker for the best part of two decades. While the much-revered ‘Kaputt’, released in 2011, was of his most accessible collections, ‘Poison Season’ offers the listener a far more challenging experience, at times reflecting his own rough edges.

Multiple versions of the same song – Times Square – form the crux of the new record, opening and closing the collection with short, sparse orchestral pieces where the minimalism helps emphasise Bejar’s captivating lyrics: “You can follow a rose wherever it grows, you could fall in love with Times Square.” A fleshed-out, full band take appears at the midway point and features a range of instrumentation, its guitars vying with rock ‘n’ roll sax as part of a thrilling whole.

‘Kaputt’ tended towards catchy pop efforts but Bejar actively avoided the most accessible songs in this batch in order to preserve the overall vibe of ‘Poison Season’. The decision doesn’t always work.

Archer On The Beach conjures up images of a smoky jazz club, but its seemingly random piano tinkling, brushes of brass and electric guitar noodling produce something a little too Fast Show for comfort.

The rousing, Springsteen-like Dream Lover is largely at odds with the rest of the album, but is arguably the best track here, as well as being most reminiscent of the New Pornographers’ finest efforts.

Forces From Above blends a calypso beat with dramatic strings, sax and varied percussion to produce an intriguing concoction, while a mellow effort, The River, slows things down further for a more genteel moment.

Elsewhere, Midnight Meet The Rain takes on the appearance of a ‘70s US cop show theme, while Girl In A Sling is a thing of serene beauty, boasting sublimely atmospheric strings. Bangkok’s powerful piano chords and horn bursts provide another highlight, before Sun In The Sky returns to the melancholy depths.

The vast majority of songs on ‘Poison Season’ are strong in their own right and as a collection it is undoubtedly set to be lavished with praise, but at 52 minutes long its jazz-inflected feel is occasionally overbearing and lacking in dynamism. More in the vein of Dream Lover may have helped satisfy a wider audience, particularly any New Pornographers fans taking a first peek at his solo work, but with Bejar holding back some catchy cuts in the wake of ‘Kaputt’, that was never likely to extend much further than it does here.

Destroyer Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 30 2015 - LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
Sat October 31 2015 - BRIGHTON Haunt
Sun November 01 2015 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Mon November 02 2015 - BRISTOL Lantern

Click here to compare & buy Destroyer Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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