Kaputt: Destroyers super album of 2011
You know its going to be a tricky year when an album that comes out in January remains the best thing you’ve heard in December of that year. It’s a bit like going back to your hometown and falling in love with your primary school boyfriend. It sort of makes you wonder what you did with the rest of your time.
Kaputt did that for all the mainstream mags las year. It was leaked at the end of 2010 and then launched in Jan 2011. The vinyl edition of the album features bonus material on side three written largely by frequent Destroyer collaborator Ted Bois. This material is also included in the European CD version of the album credited as ‘The Laziest River’.
Pitchfork placed the album at second on its list of the “Top 50 albums of 2011”. Uncut placed the album at number 31 while Mojo placed the album at number 41 on its list. Pitchfork Media and El País named it the second best album of 2011. It was popular to say the least.
So how does it fare up a year down the track?
It’s ok. It is instantly recognizable as the kind of thing that grabs the indie fan base. To be honest, it reminded be of The Panics. I am fairly familiar with Destroyer, though I can’t say I’ve leapt on the bandwagon. This album is my favourite of theirs thus far. This has a pleasant sound, and It is easy listening. There’s a lilting jazz backdrop to may of the tracks, and this is done well in Suicide Demo for Kara Walker. It slides between soft rock, smooth jazz, and new romantic pop.
The lyrics are more pronounced because of the sublimated music. This is a personality driven album. It’s really all about Bejar. (Dan Bejar is an independent singer-songwriter from Vancouver renowned for his challenging and often cryptic lyrics and unorthodox vocals featured in many of his songs. Bejar has gained widespread popularity through his musical collaborations with Vancouver indie-rock band The New Pornographers, but has released far more material as the frontman of his band Destroyer.) For me he doesn’t have enough to carry off this much attention. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the album. I just got a little bored. I felt that this level of focus on Bejar was the albums (or Bejar’s ) conceit and there wasn’t enough going to warrant it.
Sometimes it gets more interesting, there are layers of vocalisations and that sweet background horn is always a welcome relief, but for the most part I found it too self-conscious and in love with its own brilliance. According to Pitchfork reviewer Mark Richardson, Kaputt is full of in jokes. I certainly hope so, because that will help a lot of people enjoy it a lot more. He also mentions ‘Bay of Pigs’ which has a nice interesting intro (see it below) which does have a nice little up tempo transformation going on 7 mins in or so. The other suggestion is ‘The Laziest River’ which is a 20 minute (!) indulgence that Pitchfork consider forgivable.
I can understand why a lot of people enjoyed this album. I loved the latest Tom Waits and plenty of people didn’t like that. Different folk like different things. If you enjoy the music I regularly post on the blog, I don’t think this is the album for you. It certainly isn’t one I will ever play again, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth having a listen. Best album of 2011? Nope. Not for me.