Features | Awards

The Marty McFly Award for Best Album of 2011 in 2010

By Alan Baban | 8 December 2010

(Merge; 2011)

Better than Rubies (2006)? Fuck it. Kaputt is even better than Streethawk (2001). And Streethawk, as every Destroyer nut on Earth already knows, is the musical equivalent of shooting up dopamine. How does Dan Bejar top that?

Answer: Steely Dan Bejar! Space-disco! Acid-jazz freak-outs! Painfully laid-back/emotionally crushed/hopelessly flourished vocal delivery! Warm, expansive production! Incredible non-sequiturs! Bah! Bah! Bah! But really, and though all of that stuff is true, what gives Kaputt its soul—what really separates it from the rest of the Destroyer canon—is the sense that Dan isn’t just threatening to be real here; he is being real.

It comes across first in his voice, which, now that he’s completely refrained from the hysterical tics, communicates this supple, comforting sound even as it expresses the pain of regret and guilt. Which: there’s a lot of that on Kaputt, a lot of soul-baring and broken teeth, but also, ultimately, ragged triumph. It’s taken Destroyer half a decade and four albums of solid genre-shifting to create something this fully formed and mad-scientist original. This is why it’s better than Rubies. Because Dan isn’t pulling out of any traditional playbooks here. And better than Streethawk because Kaputt—with it’s not-insignificant saxophone solos and hard-won cosmic breakdowns—is the sound of an artist entirely rejuvenated after a period of writer’s block, rather than the sound of an artist who doesn’t believe in writer’s block. Because, oh look, Ava! Her face!

What I’m trying to say is the victories here hit harder. I can’t wait to review the fuck out of this shit.