Courtesy of Merge Records
Eccentric lyricism takes a backseat in Destroyer's "Chinatown," but the song leads to someplace more sensual.
On Kaputt, singer-songwriter Dan Bejar reevaluates his band's sound and drifts away from the David Bowie comparisons that have plagued even his best albums. The key to the New Pornographers member's success: nostalgia. It's difficult to say where — or when — Destroyer's latest album stands, but it sounds like a bright and glorious afterlife for genres deemed dead by modern music. This heavenly plane is where the downfall of disco mingles with the birth of new wave, and where smooth jazz gets a last-minute invite to play along.
Bejar finds himself swimming in an ocean of synthesizers and echoing horn solos in "Chinatown." The aesthetic implies kitsch, but he finds enough sincerity to transcend it: The production is crisp, mixing everything into a harmonious balance, even as the track breaches into sweet, chaotic swells during the hook.
The eccentric lyricism that usually guides Destroyer's songs takes a backseat here, but "Chinatown" leads to someplace more sensual and romantic. In spite of all the song's talk about walking away, the vocals — in which Bejar is paired with singer Sibel Thrasher — draw the song's lovers ever closer together. The effect is like hearing them let go and finally give in to their deepest desires.