Destroyer, led by Daniel Bejar, is an alternative The New Pornographers side-project, a band of which he is also a part of and contributes guitar, vocals, and much more as well, with Kathryn Calder, and John Collins & JP Carter, who also appear on this record. While Destroyer may look like Bejar’s side project, he stresses that, “the music is always collaborative,” with The New Pornagrapher members coming in and out, and a mass of dense synthesizers and orchestration. From Vancouver, Bejar has dipped his feet in a lot of projects, like Destroyer, The New Pornagraphers, Swan Lake (an odd New Pornagraphers, Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubown, & the Wolf Parade supergroup), and a group with his girlfriend Sydney Vermont called Hello, Blue Roses.
The sound of this project, of Destroyer, is one of orchestral funk with latin and jazz influences. Much more dreamy on his last record, Kaputt, Poison Season share similar traits but goes for a more rock n’ roll feel. The idea was to make another album like Kaputt but more with the concept of how they sound live. “I would not have been able to make such an ambitious album if Kaputt had not been successful,” said Bejar. Most of Poison Season was tracked with a live band and string section, a giant staple of Destroyer’s unique sound, as well as trumpet and lush saxophone solo’s and focus.
With all of the vocal work being on Bejar this time around, unlike on Kaputt with Sibel Thraser, where the vocals were sometimes shared, Bejar said that it was the first record he had ever done that comes close to his idea of himself as a singer. A unique kind of Bob Dylan, talking poetry, Destroyer’s lyrics and vocal work is kind of hard to explain.
Exploring life in the Big Apple (for anyone who still calls it that), Poison Season is a homage to the city of New York. A little down in the dumps, a little about a dream lover, a bunch about Time Square, some midnight jazz anthems, and some poetic lyrics that are partly vague and partly understandable, though design-ably so, Bejar’s view of the city is one of contradictory musical styles vs. its lyrical content. Though this idea of juxtaposed meaning and package of release does have its beauty, as the device often does, and it’s something Bejar capitalizes on with the music of Destroyer.
A challenging record for both Bejar and its listeners, Destroyer has always been driven by sound of the record and poetics more than to make an “album of songs,” they’re more, “album of feelings,” kind of people. “He has never made, and will probably never make, a bad album – he’s far too accomplished, intuitive, and literate for that,” said Jayson Greene of Pitchfork, of which I have to agree. With music like this, and with so many records under his belt of this sound caliber and quality, while I may not always understand what he’s going for or have the record resonate with some shared feeling or story, Bejar and Destroyer’s goals in record sound and mood creation produce some very interesting music that I’m very glad exists.