Destroyer's Poison Season opens swathed in Hunky Dory strings. Dan Bejar‰۪s a dashboard Bowie surveying four wracked characters‰ÛÓJesus, Jacob, Judy, Jack‰ÛÓsimultaneously Biblical and musical theatre. This bittersweet, Times Square-set fanfare is reprised twice more on the record‰ÛÓfirst as swaying, saxophone-stoked ‰ÛÏstreet-rock‰ and then finally as a curtain-closing reverie.åÊ
Broadway Danny Bejar dramatically switches scenes with ‰ÛÏDream Lover,‰ all Style Council strut and brassy, radio-ready bombast (echoes of The Boo Radleys‰۪ evergreen earworm ‰ÛÏWake Up Boo!‰). This being Destroyer, its paramours-on-the-run exuberance is judiciously spiked by his deadpan delivery: ‰ÛÏOh shit, here comes the sun‰Û_‰
Like the other DB, Mr. Bejar has long displayed a chameleonic instinct for change while maintaining a unified aesthetic (rather than just pinballing between reference points). No two records sound the same, but they‰۪re always uniquely Destroyer. His latest incarnation often appears to take sonic cues from a distinctly British (usually Scottish, to be precise) strain of sophisti-pop: you might hear traces of Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Orange Juice, or The Blow Monkeys. These songs merge a casual literary brilliance with intense melodic verve, nimble arrangements, and a certain blue-eyed soul sadness.
Playfully rueful, ‰ÛÏSun in the Sky‰ foregrounds cryptic lyrical dexterity over pop-classicist strum before gradually left-fielding into rhythmically supple, delirious avant-squall. It‰۪s as if Talk Talk took over a Lloyd Cole show. Originally released on a collaborative EP with electronic maestros Tim Hecker and Loscil (the latter‰۪s drones are retained here), a retooled ‰ÛÏArcher on the Beach‰ suggests Sade swimming in The Blue Nile, smooth-jazz marimba melancholy dilated by ecstatic ambience. Flecked in heady dissonance, elusively alluring, Dan hymns its eponymous ‰ÛÏimpossible raver on your death bed‰ while implicitly beckoning the listener: ‰ÛÏCareful now, watch your step, in you go.‰
That‰۪s Poison Season in essence: familiar yet mysterious, opaquely accessible. Arch, for sure, but ultimately elevatory.