Dan Bejar took longer making this Destroyer album than he has any other for a couple of reasons. One, he didn’t want it to sound like the preceding Kaputt, an album of gorgeous synth swathes and pop melodies that brought his band more attention than they’d ever received in his two-decade long career. Bejar was fed up of the attention, and of Kaputt. Indeed, the second reason a follow up has taken so long is that he wanted people to have enough time to forget about Kaputt completely.
Poison Season isn’t Kaputt. Instead, it’s a long, slow, wilfully difficult and brilliant record that once again will force followers of Destroyer to reassess what they think this remarkable band is all about. Despite Bejar remaining the driving force, ‘band’ is the apposite term for Destroyer now more than ever, with the expansive sound here coming from Kaputt’s touring troupe being kept on for writing and recording sessions for its successor. It means that though the synths of that record are largely absent, saxophones remain in full force, along with more strings than have ever appeared on all previous Destroyer LPs put together. It’s so luscious all you can do at times is marvel at it.
Though it’s not made easy for you, the three drastically different versions of the song ‘Times Square’ that begin, call half time on and eventually close the record are key to finding a way into Poison Season. Ranging from downtrodden to breezy to dramatically sparse respectively, these themes are explored to their logical extremes across the rest of the album’s generous 52 minutes.
The brilliant Springsteenism of ‘Dream Lover’ represents the only immediate moment, with the likes of the abject sadness of ‘Girl In A Sling’, unhinged jazz travelogue ‘Bangkok’ and introverted samba of ‘Forces From Above’ each presenting challenges on first listen, but untold riches on the second, third, fiftieth and beyond.
Bejar is not aiming for world domination on Poison Season – he’s refining his audience. If you’re the kind of person who judges a record on one listen, it’s likely he’s not interested in you having that one listen to begin with. But you’re missing out, not only on a slinky, sensual, and slowly unfolding ‘Archer on the Beach’ (which may be his best ever composition), but on the deep treasures of Poison Season as a whole – Bejar’s second consecutive, radically different masterpiece.