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New Music: Destroyer

By Jason Herring, September 3 2015 —

Dan Bejar’s work is polarizing. As the frontman of his band Destroyer, critics laud his poetic lyricism just as often as they dismiss it for being obtuse or contrived. But his new album, Poison Season, is an undeniably smart and polished release that shows why Bejar is one of the greatest minds in Canadian music.

Poison Season is Destroyer’s first album since 2011’s Kaputt, an acclaimed album that explored cool jazz and ‘80s disco influences. But Poison Season moves away from that style, focusing instead on pared-down instrumentals. This is evident on “Girl in a Sling,” an uncharacteristically sparse ballad featuring Bejar’s lone voice over quiet piano.

The album is structured around three versions of the song “Times Square.” Poison Season starts and ends with understated orchestral versions of the track that are nearly identical, give or take a few lines. Having the album bookended by these tracks gives Poison Season a satisfying symmetry and a sense of closure. ENT_DestroyerCover_WEB

But the best track on Poison Season is the upbeat version of “Times Square” that acts as the album’s centrepiece. “You can fall in love with Times Square,” Bejar sings on the track, alluding to the dizzying sense of romance and adventure that comes with being in new places.

Another highlight is the record’s lead single, “Dream Lover.” The track kicks the album into gear after Poison Season’s orchestral opening with brazen horn lines and a spirited vocal performance by Bejar.

Yet another standout comes in the penultimate “Sun in the Sky,” a melancholic but optimistic track filled with grandoise saxaphone lines.

Unfortunately, not all the tracks on Poison Season are winners. The most notable dud is “Midnight Meet the Rain,” an oddly crass song with terrible George Thorogood-esque brass instrumentation. Bejar normally specializes in subtle and delicate arrangements, so the overly robust nature of the song is a strange departure.

Poison Season probably won’t attract as much attention as Destroyer’s more energetic albums. But it’s still a very solid release from one of Canada’s most beloved indie musicians.

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