Album Review: Destroyer – “Poison Season”

Written by DJ RePete on August 25, 2015


“I write poetry for myself! I write poetry for myself…”

These lyrics from Destroyer’s previous record Kaputt are oddly fitting to describe Dan Bejar’s unique lyrical content and delivery on the band’s newest release, Poison Season. Aside from featuring Bejar’s playful wit, this new album showcases some impressive writing performed by a lush string section. The energy of the record fluctuates between tender, stripped down ballads and Bowie-esque epics augmented by a mix of horns. Perhaps the best balance of these two extremes is heard on the song “River”, where Bejar’s subtle piano-backed words quickly give way to a dreamy horn melody. The volume waxes and wanes until the last minute of the track, where the band brings the mood down but retains their deliberate sound.

Another standout song on the record, “Girl in a Sling”, starts as a nostalgic lullaby with cryptically haunting lyrics. The ensemble takes the melody and develops the idea with the grace and confidence only strings can deliver. As the two units join together, the intensity rises and the group emits a swell of emotion. It is this masterful layering of dynamic contrast that makes the record so great.

To hear the delicate nature of this album was a bit surprising, since I am most familiar with Dan Bejar’s work with The New Pornographers, especially their record Together. Tracks like “Silver Jenny Dollar & “If You Can’t See My Mirrors” are almost a foil of the pensive indie rock from Poison Season. As the frontman of Destroyer, Bejar decides to trade in the driving baselines and electro-pop feel from Kaputt for an even more introverted and intimate sound on the new record. I’m not familiar with the whole Destroyer catalogue so I can’t make some sort of sweeping generalization on how this new album fits in with their discography, but I can definitely tell you I’m loving what I’ve heard from them so far.

This is a great band that makes genuine music with equal parts simplicity and depth. If you haven’t checked out Destroyer, I highly recommend them. You can stream the new album Poison Season, free on NPR’s First Listen (here) until its official release on the 28th. They’ll also be coming through Portland’s Wonder Ballroom on September 18th. I’ll be visiting New England then, but you should go even if only to make me jealous.





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