Destroyer – Kaputt (Merge)
If his songs are anything to go by, Dan Bejar is a fallen Lord who lives in a castle which has seen better days. The castle walls are strewn with testaments to past glories: aging military trophies and rusted coats of arms. His empire is in decline and has been for a good while now. Yet there sits Bejar, proudly toasting a chalice of wine to himself in an empty dining hall, as the fire crackles down to its last embers. He is pop culture’s very own King Lear, or better still Emperor Nero, fiddling about while Rome burns. Overwhelmed by the artistic triumphs and significance of pop music in the many decades previous to his own, he nevertheless allows himself a wry chuckle, unsure as to whether his opinion of the current pop scene is a valid one or whether he’s just another casualty of the emotional engagement he accorded to music in his younger days. He is the victim of a witch’s curse, forever doomed to seek approval from a culture he confers no value to. He’s listened to too much Dylan but, like all good Dylan fans, he both loves and hates him, forever struggling with the Oedipal urge to plunge a knife into his heart for all his artistic pratfalls, while also remaining slack-jawed in admiration at his many musical accomplishments.
And therein lies the tension at the heart of Dan Bejar’s songwriting: how do you balance reverence for your art, knowing full well that notions like ‘art’ and ‘reverence’ contain their very own brand of bullshit, while also knowing that no reverence for your art leaves you open to the worst kind of musical missteps or even denials as to your art’s basic worth (outside of monetary worth and entertainment value)? It can be a difficult line to walk. How does one grow and change musically while still staying true to whatever values one professes to have? Enter Kaputt, the new album by Destroyer. -> -> ->