Listening: Kurt’s Album of the Week

Last year, the New Pornographers Brill Bruisers was one of my favorite and most played albums.  However, before I heard it, I thought the only two singers in the band were AC Newman and Neko Case.  In fact, when I watched an NPR concert, I was kind of shocked to see someone else sing “War On the East Coast.”  I honestly didn’t know Dan Bejar was in the band.  I honestly didn’t know who Dan Bejar existed.  The video didn’t help.  Bejar lets Newman lip synch his vocals.

Thanks to Spotify, and a 30% off one of his albums at a local record store, I quickly went through Bejar’s solo work in his solo outfit, Destroyer.  Like the New Pornographers he makes great pop music.  Destroyer sounds like both classic and cutting edge at the same time

Poison Season is Destroyer’s latest release.  I listened to the first time last weekend.  I’m probably on my fifth or sixth listen.  The music can easily go into yacht rock mode, but  I mean that as a compliment.  Bejar has plenty of musical ideas and he’s not afraid to use piano, rock, or jazz (or a combination of all three) to explore his songs.  “Dream Lover” is a joyous, victorious triumph in this regard.  Hits rocks, yet has some of the best horn arrangements outside of a Trombone Shorty album.  Other songs, like “Girl in a Sling” get lush string arrangements that could be on Frank Sinatra song.  Or a Tom Waits one for that matter.

While I haven’t really paid much attention to the lyrics (I mainly listen to it at work), it’s Bejar’s voice that is the real star of the album for me.  He has a unique expressive sound that sometimes stays on a syllable for a half a second too long.  It works on the slow meditative songs and the songs that have a much quicker place.  The way he sings Times Square (which pops up on at least three different songs) makes me want to fall in love with Times Square.

The best thing I can say about this album is that I want to listen to it again.  I listen to about five or six new albums a week.  Some I don’t actually make it past song three.  Some I listen to once and then move on.  Some get a second.  This album is one that hurts my weekly average because instead of exploring new music, it becomes my focus for the week.