Quick Review (LP): Kaputt by Destroyer

Destroyer
Kaputt
Merge; 2011

My Rating: B (72/100)

Best Tracks: "Kaputt", "Chinatown", "Savage Night At The Opera", "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker", “Bay of Pigs (Detail)”

A Sleepy Aural Epic of Urban Proportions

RANDOM NOTES

– Smooth and seemingly effortless, this is the work of an artist seeking to emulate the soft rock precision of Steely Dan.
– More glammy than Smith Westerns without even trying.
– I’ve got no idea what Dan Bejar is singing about, and I assume it is rather depraved and essentially vacuous, but the melodies and the arrangements are fantastic.
– Love the Dire Straits-esque opening on "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker." Transporting.
– As great as many of these songs are, their remains a nebulosity that approaches jazziness, and I can’t help but feel that on a certain level Bejar might be a little lazy in terms of songcraft.
– One major drawback: Lacks impressiveness, that is, the ability to remain with you after you’re done listening.
– Begins to drag toward the end. For all of its excess, it lacks spark.
– Do NOT listen to this while driving. You might just fall asleep around "Song for America." 
– I have very mixed feelings about this – a sonic feast, but sort of boring and empty for all of its surface beauty.
Mark Richardson and James Christopher Monger both have lovely things to say about Kaputt.
– All in all, this is most certainly a grower, and a deep record. Nothing jumps right out and cries pay attention, but the more I listen, the more I find this a fascinating affair.

ATTRIBUTES

Cohesion (5/5) – Hard to beat the overall craftsmanship of the album.
Consequence (4/5) – No big single punch here, but it’s a very strong record.
Concept (4.5/5) – A fantastically smooth soft rock record.
Consistency (4.5/5) – Several brilliant moments really stand out above the rest.
Songs (4/5) – Could’ve been a bit stronger in the singles department.

Quick Review (LP): Dye It Blonde by Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde
Fat Possum; 2011

My Rating: C

Best Tracks: “Weekend”

There’s been a ton of hype surrounding this record, and I truly expected I’d like it. After several listens, I can safely say this is a mediocre record at best. The band’s influences are obvious, and the music sounds almost exactly how you’d expect it to sound. Still, none of that’s really that problematic. I can handle derivative rock records. The problem with Smith Westerns is an utter lack of vocal talent. It’s a problem I see a lot these days. I recall seeing Wild Nothing last year and thinking the same thing. Give me a Freddie Mercury or a Liam Gallagher or, in Wild Nothing‘s case, a Robert Smith, and then you’ve got something. Without that, you need something far more interesting instrumentally, and the Smith Westerns just don’t deliver on that level. It’s obvious these guys want to make huge rock songs, but there’s far more gloss here than over-the-top glam. The keyboards sheen and the falsettos swell, but I can’t shake the feeing that this just isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Pitchfork review
Metacritic review
AMG review
Sputnik Music review