[Album Review] Destroyer- Poison Season
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Release Date: August 24th, 2015
Label: Merge Records

With his engaging voice, and being such a well-polished professional, it is almost impossible for Destroyer (Dan Bejar) to come up with a genuinely poor album at this stage. It is, however, possible for him to produce something less than stellar, something just moderately good. OK, so now you know where this review is going.

In fairness, it would be difficult to meet or beat 2011’s terrific ‘Kaputt’, an album that almost defined a new genre of lounge cool. But there are only vestiges of that aesthetic on ‘Poison Season’ and there is nothing progressively new to replace it. What you have is a collection of beautiful pop songs that are sumptuously recorded. The focus of the creative energy here is in the crafting and production of the music, rather than in exploring any new sonic territory.  Having said that, the songs are smart and Bejar always has something interesting to say.

There are clever lines like “The ass king’s made of asses, the ice queen’s made of snow” from “Archer on the Beach” that you love to hear repeated just for their ear candy appeal. Then there are the more subtle moments of poetry such as the following from “Girl in a Sling”: “Two stars/Three stars/The night sky above/Used to mean everything/To horses in love. In a song about harm that can never be repaired, the horses represent a state of innocence that humans can never attain, or at least can never recapture, and the night sky represents that magic around us that we once used to appreciate. Yes, this material is well worth delving into given the depth of thought and the lyrical beauty.

The problem is that Bejar forces us to work too hard, to dig too deep, to gain a real appreciation for ‘Poison Season’. On the musical surface there isn’t much going on. Stylistically, this could be called pre-rock, but with its lack of edge and its reliance on orchestral string swells for dramatic effect, it veers all too close to a bland contemporary adult-oriented neighbourhood (or MOR). That’s not a place you want to be.