When: Thu., Oct. 8, 8 p.m. 2015
DESTROYER | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8
CAT'S CRADLE, CARRBORO—Long lauded as the smartest man in indie rock's room, Dan Bejar has rarely fixated his creative inclinations on any one path as Destroyer. With his florid voice and vivid wordplay, nothing about Bejar's discography suggests he's one to play it safe. But it sometimes seems that the occasional New Pornographer's stylistic turns aren't entirely by design. While his dense lyricism and his records' sprightly arrangements suggest great deliberation, it's plausible, too, that Bejar's capriciously sending himself down rabbit holes, like the icy and sophisticated '80s pop of Kaputt and This Night's guitar-heavy psychedelia. It's not hard to imagine him holing up in a studio every few years and experimenting with approaches until something seems interesting.
To wit, "Times Square" appears in three separate iterations on this year's Poison Season: once in the dead center of the record as a bright AM gold rocker and at the record's beginning and end, as a leaden, string-laden lament. The record largely alternates between mournful orchestral ballads and rousing rock music. After the commercial and critical success of 2011's Kaputt (it peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard 200 and landed at No. 2 on Pitchfork's best-of list), Bejar's recording budget nearly tripled, affording him the opportunity to work with a proper string quintet on Poison Season. But Bejar also went native, recording single takes with his longtime live band. The humans-in-a-room energy is palpable on the Springsteen-ish "Dream Lover" and the slinking "Archer on the Beach."
Taking Poison Season as a whole, the leaps from one song to the next can be jarring. But the record nonetheless fits right into Destroyer's ever-unfurling oeuvre, working best when Bejar's diametric approaches overlap, creating theatrical songs within a street-rock mosaic. "Aw shit, here comes the sun," Bejar croons on "Dream Lover." The sentiment underscores the sense that, for all of Destroyer's affectations, Bejar seems to be very much making pop music purely by accident. With Jennifer Castle. 8 p.m., $15–$20, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro, 919-967-9053, www.catscradle.com. —Patrick Wall