Illustration by Justin Taing

KAPUTT, Destroyer’s (Dan Bejar) seminal record of romantic, loungey/jazz/art-rock jams, turns ten years old today.

I was introduced to Destroyer early last year, ahead of the release of his twelfth record, HAVE WE MET. This quickly snowballed into a new obsession for me, and I, luckily, was able to catch Bejar play one of the last shows I saw in San Francisco pre-pandemic. By default, it was the best show I saw in 2020 – no doubt it would have stood up to future shows had they actually happened – and it was there I heard tracks from KAPUTT for the first time.

I vividly remember hearing the opening notes of KAPUTT’s centerpiece “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” and immediately thinking – “QUICK! Write some lyrics down so you remember to look this song up when you get home!” – and I’ve been in a love affair ever since. I even have a short clip of the song from that night, which I sent to a few friends asking if they could give me the title. The title track “Kaputt” and “Poor In Love” made me feel similarly awestruck.

KAPUTT’s lyrics drip in this careless irony while Bejar’s almost drab vocal delivery is given with a wink and a nudge, soaring over the easy and bright production – culminating into the kind of soundtrack to a dance party I’ve only dreamt about many times in the last year. It’s romantic and sad, yet bouncy and complex. You can hear exactly how he recorded some vocals while lying down on a couch or while making a sandwich, as he confessed in a 2011 interview with Pitchfork.

KAPUTT also saw the resurgence of the smooth sax in indie music, with the release of the anthemic “Midnight City” by M83 following KAPUTT in 2011, a line that can be traced as far into 2015s spectacular “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen and even in more recent releases.

In the lens of the pandemic, I may be over-romanticizing Destroyer – these songs were some of the last I got to enjoy in a sold out club, with friends, acquaintances, strangers – and the release of HAVE WE MET marked a moment of momentous change in everyones daily lives. I would spend many days in the following months throwing KAPUTT and HAVE WE MET onto my turntable, and leaving it there for weeks on end because it’s all I wanted to listen to. Today alone, I’ve listened three times in a row.

Happy tenth birthday to KAPUTT, which is available to stream wherever you listen to music. Long live Destroyer!

Justin Taing

Justin Taing is a lover of Ina Garten, rambles for two hours every second Monday on “Gem Radio”, and once was on a Zoom call with Tim Robinson, Japanese Breakfast, and Caroline Polachek

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