DE­STROYER Ka­putt ( Merge Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Dan Be­jar — still best known for be­ing the “weird one” in the New Pornog­ra­phers — has crafted a solid body of wry, ob­ser­vant work as band­leader of De­stroyer. I of­ten hear ’ 70s-era, glam-rock David Bowie in De­stroyer’s work, and with Ka­putt, Be­jar makes the jar­ring shift into

Labyrinth sound­track-era Bowie. Ka­putt is glazed over with slip­pery sax­o­phones, smooth trum­pets, and gen­tle soft-disco grooves, and at first lis­ten, it can be wince-wor­thy. By the fifth lis­ten, it seems like there could be no other ac­com­pa­ni­ment to Be­jar’s sor­did tales of city life and cyn­i­cal songs for Amer­ica. He even smoothes his prickly sing­ing down to a breathy sigh, wrap­ping vel­vet bows around his con­so­nants and mak­ing the last word in many lines melt away like cot­ton candy. And what lines they are! As usual, Be­jar ef­fec­tively con­veys a rogue and trou­ba­dour, both cyn­i­cal and ro­man­tic. “I was poor in love, I was poor in wealth, I was OK in ev­ery­thing else there was,” he sings in “Poor in Love,” amid a gen­tle shower of min­i­mal­ist notes, which be­comes a cas­cade of hand claps and gui­tar squalls. The al­bum ebbs and flows on this se­duc­tive funk, slip­ping in a flute solo or nod­ding to late-pe­riod Miles Davis (listed as an in­flu­ence in the press notes). It’s the best work of Be­jar’s ca­reer, and an early fron­trun­ner for best al­bum of 2011. — Robert B. Ker

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