Destroyer – ken (Dead Oceans)

Destroyer can be classed as many genres and never just one in particular. An artist must always improve, change and adapt to new ways to remain relevant. This is exactly what Dan Bejar did on his most recent Destroyer release.

Destroyer is the musical project of Dan Bejar from The New Pornographers. On his twelfth release under the alias, ken, Destroyer plays around with the sounds of 80s new wave and ambient pop with Dan’s famous poetic, and as always poignant, lyrics laid over.

For my first listen of ken, the new wave sound reminded me strongly of 80s Manchester band New Order, with guitars and drums on tracks In The Morning and Tinseltown Swimming in Blood so incredibly reminiscent of the band’s earlier material, totally compelling and cannot be ignored!

That is till we reach the middle of the album. Saw You at the Hospital which offers a cool acoustic ballad that’s smooth and progresses swiftly throughout and offers a break from the New Order knock off tracks which has become the trademark of Destroyer but as previously stated, he can not settle on just one sound and is not afraid to leave his comfort zone behind when trying out new genres.

For the remainder of the album, it maintains it’s dreamy pop sound characterized by lots of reverb and gentle keys but one major part that the album does not lack and fail for ears is Dan’s incredible, undeniably amazing voice. With each track (and album) he manages to hold the the power in his husky voice which remains so soft and soothing to the listeners ears.

My stand out track was the closing track La Regle du Jeu, Destroyer has always been one to close albums on such dominant songs and La Regle du Jeu holds up to this with an overdriven guitar solo, performed and flourished so perfectly, it leaves you wanting to listen to the whole album again and realizing this is a wonderful experience after all.

I left the album feeling slightly less than satisfied and that despite the tracks changing genre and sounds, there was still an underlying feeling of sameness and repetitiveness and the track improvements that happened felt lazy and insincere, lacking motivation which disappointed. For an artist such as Destroyer, whose first album was a stripped back indie rock feel and very Neutral Milk Hotel-esque, he certainly has shown, whilst happy to swap genres, these changes need to feel sincere but he seems to realize he cannot just ride one genre forever and therefore continues searching for the conviction which he can really cross over successfully.

Jonathan Strock