Kaputt arrived on the scene in January with such aplomb, it was hard not to incite vague comparisons with Merriweather Post Pavilion. Just as focused in its left-turn from crunchy electric rock to synthesized textures, Kaputt seemed destined to win 2011 before it was thirty days out of the gate.
And there’s a good chance Destroyer pulled it off too, albeit on a slyer scale than the crushing dominance Animal Collective demonstrated in 2009; Kaputt grabbed a flurry of ecstatic reviews that climaxed with numerous year-end accolades and a shortlist nomination for the Polaris Prize. Indeed, Dan Bejar’s ninth record as Destroyer became a universal touchstone amongst indie enthusiasts, although the argument could easily be made that Kaputt was designed to be such. I mean, a precocious blend of Destroyer’s wit matched to atmospheric, Steely Dan-esque arrangements, all coated in an 80s sheen of sax and drum-machines? That level of pastiche seems tailor-made for 2011 and was quickly absorbed by a shoot-from-the-hip blogger community SCQ’s hesitant to readily associate with.
Manufactured or not, there was no denying Kaputt’s accomplishment or the prevailing oddity of Dan Bejar. It renewed my interest in Bejar’s songwriting for the first time since Destroyer’s Rubies in 2006 and gave me a rare horse to root for in the Polaris. Also, like Merriweather…, Kaputt was dangerously close to exhausting all of the sentiments and sonic trickery we considered fresh, in a way defining the strengths and flaws of the year that was.