Review: Destroyer – Poison Season

By Glen Ess
Dan Bejar’s 10th album with Destroyer, Poison Season, is an album that’s full to the brim with nostalgia. Predominantly a classic, 50s style jazz and orchestral influenced, crooning album the record at times veers into a 70s rock style.
For the most part Poison Season is melancholic and contains a palpable feeling that Bejar is lost, deep in thought, almost consciously holding back the album from letting loose, as if he’s second guessing himself. When Poison Season does ramp up it resembles an old school classic rock album, mirroring the likes of Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Bob Seger and Billy Joel; piano driven rock that crashes down on you like a tidal wave of sound. However, such moments are rare, and the record seems to deliberately withhold such moments, limiting them to only three songs: “Dream Lover”, “Times Square”, and “Midnight Meet The Rain”. Barring these three songs, there are only a handful of moments during the other, far more jazz influenced songs where the music temporarily kicks into high gear. “Hell” and “Archer On The Beach” both contain hints of this, but not to the same intensity as the aforementioned trio of songs.
A common thread throughout the album is the use of Horns, which take center stage throughout each of Poison Season’s thirteen tracks, much like Destroyer’s 2011 release “Kaputt”.
Bejar’s vocals veer between an airy, breathlessly smooth croon – best seen on “Solace’s Bride” and “Girl In A Sling” – and a more brash, ragged, hoarse style seen during Poison Season’s more explosive moments, most noticeable on “Dream Lover”.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Dan Bejar penned album without pithy, easily quotable lines, from “Dream Lover”, we see an almost deadpan “Aw shit here comes the sun” as well as a matter of fact “you’re sick in the head”. And from Solace’s Bride he calmly and quietly goes through the following: “Stars blink, stars go wild and expire/ Stars get made from fire” which rolls of the tongue with ease. Callbacks to prior songs abound between “Times Square Poison Season I”, the album’s opener, middle track “Times Square” and final track “Times Square Poison Season II” which neatly adds to the album’s cohesion while also highlighting how much of a difference delivery and tempo can make in how a song is perceived, with “Times Square” much more upbeat and faster than the opener and closer.
Overall, Poison Season is a continuation of ‘Kaputt”. While the album is consistently excellent throughout, it also seems to be confused as to what kind of sound it’s aiming for, with the classical, smooth jazz sound at odds with the more quick tempoed soft rock trio of songs that appear almost at random across the album.
Highlights: Dream Lover, Times Square & Midnight Meets The Rain
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