Poison Season by Destroyer, can easily be said to have been one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2015. Fronted by song writer Dan Bejar, whose last album Kapputt was released in 2011 to critical acclaim. It’s been a long four years of waiting for the die hard Destroyer fans, with only an E.P of songs sang in Spanish in 2013 to keep them going.
While Poison Season has been my first venture into Destroyer’s discography, I can see the justification for the hype. Poison Season is the groups 10th album, and it is a fantastic album. Packed to the brim with a wide range of influences from genres like classical as well as soul and jazz, the album is an eclectic project to say the least.
Opening with Times Square, Poison Season I, which is the first of three versions of this song on the album. The first version is slow, melancholic tune filled with lush strings a delicate piano. The second version, which according to Bejar is the full version of the song and comes in halfway though the album, is a much more rockier and upbeat tune, this time named only Times Square. The final version which closes the album, Times Square, Poison Season II brings back the strings and piano, but with slight variations in the performance and lyrics.
Lyrically, I was very impressed seeing as this was my first experience with Destroyer. I found myself drawn to the lyrics and paid attention to them much more than I feel I would other albums on the first few listens. The album blends ideological and personal themes fantastically well. Bejar talks about his own personal experience while also hinting at his feelings towards things like Religion and politics, but without coming across as arrogant or self-imposing.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206387368″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Religion is the most prominent of these themes to me. With the opening lyric of Times Square, Poison Season I talking about Jesus being “beside himself” and Jacob is a “state of decimation”. Also the blending of themes is very noticeable by the fact that Bejar replaces the biblical names from the first track with more contemporary names Judy & Jack in the closing version, Times Square, Poison Season II implying a sense he is talking of a more personal trauma. Bejar appears to critique religion on Forces From Above when he sings “Forces from above denied you the right to be free in your own way”.
Musically, the album fortunately did not stagnate very much for me at all. The production and performances are both lush and detailed which was great because I found something new in the songs every time I listened to the album. From the dark, moody jazz influenced instrumentation on Archer On The Beach to the punching drums and uplifting horns on the albums lead single Dream Lover. The only tracks I felt that were exceptions for me were Girl In A Sling and Bangkok. The former was almost a bit too like something from a Disney film for me and came across as a bit naff, and Bangkok was too long with not enough going on instrumentally to justify its lengths.
However that said, overall this is a fantastic project filled with excellent performances, with really fantastic production that keeps the tracks sounding fresh and upbeat, while not over produced. Poison Season has definitely motivated me to dig deep into the Destroyer catalogue, as well as patiently await the next project.