Published on October 25th, 2017 | by James Hrivnak0
Destroyer – ken
Dan Bejar was missing from The New Pornographer’s new album, most likely because he was recording his new one, ‘ken,’ an exploratory, but consistent record.
This year’s ‘Whiteout Conditions,’ the latest New Pornogrphers album feels incomplete, and that’s likely because of longtime member Dan Bejar’s absence. Presumably he was busy crafting his 11th record as Destroyer. While ‘Whiteout Conditions’ is a bit of a disappointment, it’s a trade I’m willing to accept because ‘ken’ is a really solid record.
Just two years removed from ‘Poison Season,’ ‘ken’ is a striking record that continues down the same eclectic path of ‘Kaputt’ and ‘Poison Season,’ while adding more electronic textures and soundscapes.
‘ken’ is focused less on the soft rock of ‘Kaput’ or the wistfulness of ‘Poison Season,’ but at the same time Bejar’s songwriting continues to be incredibly strong as he follows every instinct: ‘Cover from the Sun’ leans into the kind of power pop New Pornographers trades in and ‘In the Morning’ dives deep into ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ territory. Actually a lot of this record seems preoccupied with recreating and expanding on the sounds of early New Order albums, though a little more contemplative and perhaps not as dancey. But, man, just listen to that subtle groove of ‘Sometimes in the World.’
While this album is less meandering than ‘Poison Season’—by virtue of being shorter—it’s not without its diversions. ‘Saw You at the Hospital’ feels like a fine detour down a small corridor. There’s a real sense of homespun experimentation and play on this record, like ‘A Light Travels Down the Catwalk’ feels like the best possible result of noodling with vintage keyboards at 3 a.m.
‘ken’ is more consistent than ‘Poison Season,’ but not as ambitious and doesn’t reach the heights of some of his earlier albums. Although there’s not a sense of Bejar playing safe. This album finds Bejar satisfying his own exploratory impulses, which may make it a little dense for casual listeners, but ‘ken’ finds more rewards with every spin.