Destroyer’s Poison Season Fits Fall Well
Today is a great day for new music: Foals (and a listening party), Mynabirds, The Weeknd, Beach House (and their scavenger hunt), and many more. One of those “many mores” is one of my favorite bands Destroyer. It’s been two years since their latest EP Five Spanish Songs and four years since the band’s last album, Kaputt. Kaputt, for me, is like Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde for some, so I was simultaneously excited for new Destroyer and scared that Poison Season wouldn’t be as good as Kaputt. That said, Poison Season is as adventurous and beautiful as Kaputt while incorporating a more melodic structure–perhaps derived from Five Spanish Songs.
Poison Season starts a little slow with “Times Square, Poison Season I” but moves quickly from sonic textures and stream of conscious lyrics to the driving beat and fast riffed “Dream Lover.” The second track is a collage of images stitched together by a big pop saxophone riff. Simultaneously fun and melancholic, “Dream Lover” weaves emotional resonances together in a way only Destroyer can.
From “Dream Lover” Destroyer moves back into the amorphous sonic layering that characterized most of Kaputt. But to say Poison Season is merely harmonic droning would be a disservice to the album. Samba beats roil under strings and horns ghost melodies under the vocal haze. Despite the whispered lyrics and ever expanding atmospheres of the songs (they model their composition a lot on Kaputt), there’s a more set structure at their core. Whether it’s a staccato violin riff or a swirling piano chord, the most basic melodic structure gives Poison Season a skeleton to be fleshed out.
There’s a musical theatre-like feel to much of the album, which is to say there is a dramatic and narrative arc to the album. Poison Season seems to unfurl from one psyche–with its dramatic monologues and idiosyncratic asides. And no song shows this more than “Girl in a Sling.” The song sits in the middle and shows the album at its most a-melodic. “Girl in a Sling” is comprised of harmonic strings and off-the-cuff lyrics. In other words, “Girl in a Sling” slows the album.
From “Girl in a Sling,” the album moves into “Times Square” and the slinky, noir-feeling track “Archer on the Beach.” These three songs (from “Girl in a Sling” to “Archer on the Beach”) do well to show the pacing of Poison Season. An endless vacillation between fast and slow tempos, the album blends the two aesthetics together for a sound that is cohesive but never drags or leads.
The album continues this trend until its concluding track “Times Square, Poison Season II.” A reprisal of the first track, “Times Square, Poison Season II” has a David Bowie-esque feel to it, which is, by any estimate, a great note to end on. Poison Season is a wonderful follow-up to Kaputt. Its songs are as expansive as the best of Destroyer but with a light-heartedness that isn’t as front-loaded in the band’s previous releases. A perfect album for slipping into fall, Poison Season, truly, will not disappoint.