Songwriter and sonic shape-shifter extraordinaire Dan Bejar has a new album with his band Destroyer coming out next month, and it’s a doozy. Bejar’s unique trajectory has always taught us to expect the unexpected, and Ken, as the new album’s titled, is no different in that regard. Fans of 2011’s Kaputt will be pleased to hear that this one’s also deeply rooted in ‘80s sounds, but instead of Roxy Music’s sophisticated art rock, it’s New Order’s moody synthpop and The Cure’s spacier explorations that form Ken’s backbone.
Nowhere on the album is that New Order influence more pronounced than on the provocatively titled “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood,” on which Peter Hook’s iconically trebly bass tone is perfectly replicated. Destroyer’s never sounded dreamier, and but if you thought that’d dissolve Bejar’s steely resolve, guess again. He still sings about dead flowers on the skyline and the end of innocence (“I was a dreamer, watch me leave”) like he’s being backed by dour post-punk. Somehow, his eternal grumpiness is charming, and it’s certainly the most consistent aspect of band constantly in flux.
The “Tinseltown” music video was directed by KC, AKA Karen Zolo, who combines still images in surprisingly linear fashion to substitute for standard moving pictures. This approach, according to KC, was inspired by La Jetée, a 1962 French sci-fi film set in an apocalyptic, post-World War III Paris. “It's not just an homage to the great cine-poet [director Chris Marker],” she writes in a press release, “It's also about the medium of film, about still photography. It would have been a billion times easier and less stressful to shoot it digitally, but it was worth it.”
You know who else seems enthralled by the path less easy and more stressful? Dan Bejar. This painstakingly created video and his grouchiness in the face of sunny ‘80s synthpop is a match made in heaven.