Poison Season

BY Alex HudsonPublished Aug 26, 2015

Destroyer is typically viewed as a glorified solo vehicle, with singer-songwriter Dan Bejar joined by a rotating cast of backing players. At one time this was true: the Vancouver musician started the band by himself in the mid-'90s, and his first few albums were centred on his guitar and voice. And although the project has since grown in scope, the solo image continues to be perpetuated by the fact that Bejar appears alone in promotional photos, including the one that graces the cover of Destroyer's tenth full-length, Poison Season.
Despite appearances, however, Poison Season is anything but a solo affair. It was made with the same ensemble who toured behind 2011's Kaputt, and their lush arrangements are every bit as important as the frontman's melodies and lyrics. Many of the songs are daubed in cinematic strings, as Bejar — once known for his quirky yelp — croons richly on swooning neo-classical ballads like "Girl in a Sling" and "Times Square, Poison Season I," and brassy big-band numbers "Bangkok" and "Hell." Elsewhere, "Forces from Above" sports a Latin-inflected disco groove, "Dream Lover" is a sax-screaming trip down Thunder Road, "Times Square" is an acoustic rocker in the vein of Bejar's turn-of-the-millennium work and "Archer on the Beach" is smouldering late-night jazz. These forays make it a far more diverse album than many of Destroyer's past works, which have often honed in on a specific style.
The best hooks here don't come from Bejar's melodies. Rather, they are the gorgeous instrumental motifs, including the flute-flecked sweetness of "The River" and the aching horn riffs of "Sun in the Sky." Collaboration clearly suits Destroyer well: after ten albums in close to two decades, the band still sound as vital and inventive as ever, and they're operating at the top of their game on Poison Season.
(Merge Records)

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