Poison Season opens with Vancouver native Dan Bejar swathed in Hunky Dory strings. He’s a dashboard Bowie surveying four wracked characters—Jesus, Jacob, Judy, Jack—simultaneously Biblical and musical theatre. This bittersweet, Times Square-set fanfare is reprised twice more on the record—first as swaying, saxophone-stoked “street-rock” and then finally as a curtain-closing reverie.
“The first and last songs are actually one song tracked live with quintet,” explains their author. “I even sang with the band. That song always swung between super austere and super mid-’70s Springsteen/
Bowie street-rock. In the end, I decided I wanted both. Couldn’t really figure out a way to sequence the orchestral version within the record, so I decided to carve it up as a book-ending motif, with the rock version squarely in the middle.”
Mr. Bejar has long displayed a chameleonic instinct for change while maintaining a unified aesthetic (rather than just pinballing between reference points). No two records sound the same, but they’re always uniquely Destroyer. His latest incarnation often appears to take sonic cues from a distinctly British (usually Scottish, to be precise) strain of sophisti-pop: you might hear traces of Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Orange Juice, or The Blow Monkeys. These songs merge a casual literary brilliance with intense melodic verve, nimble arrangements, and a certain blue-eyed soul sadness.