Album review: Dan Bejar destroys again

Annie Zaleski

Three half stars

Lana Del Rey Honeymoon

Three and a half stars

Destroyer Poison Season

Dan Bejar is a notorious sonic shapeshifter. In The New Pornog-raphers, he provides the droll, Robyn Hitchcock-like counterpoint to A.C. Newman’s fizzy power-pop. Meanwhile, the music of Bejar’s main squeeze, Destroyer, has evolved from winking indie-rock full of gnarled, Dylan-esque tall tales to sleek sophisti-pop recalling both Roxy Music and 1970s’ AM Gold.

The expertly produced Poison Season falls squarely into the latter category, continuing down the same lush, nuanced path Bejar displayed on 2011’s Kaputt. Fuzzy saxophone and moody piano washes emerge from the foggy mist of “Archer on the Beach”; brushed percussion and jazzy muted horns drive “Solace’s Bride”; avant-garde string arrangements wind through “Forces From Above”; and “Times Square, Poison Season I” ranges from Bowie circa Space Oddity to Bowie circa Young Americans.

Yet while these glacial, subdued moments are gorgeous, Poison Season feels most compelling when Bejar lets loose. Belching horns, funk-flecked disco guitars and insistent conga rhythms give “Midnight Meet the Rain” a ’70s action flick feel, while the stomping “Dream Lover” and its raucous saxophone squawks recall the E Street Band in their hungry early days. Bejar’s muse may be unpredictable, but Poison Season has a singular focus—and cohesion—that’s delightful.

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