Destroyer’s twelfth studio album, Ken, lives, thrives in the dark. Dan Bejar evokes creepy, paranoid imagery and eludes to political undertones.

Out on Merge Records, this is Destroyer’s first release since 2015’s Poison Season. This record was produced by Josh Wells of Black Mountain, who has been the drummer in Destroyer for around five years.

Whereas many albums have one or two singles, supposed high points of the album, and maybe some low points, Ken, creeps around a middle ground, but hardly stagnates. Rather than creating separate songs, Bejar has crafted a strange, creepy world in 39 minutes filled with images of seedy men in dark alleyways, foggy parks with empty park benches, a few characters at a bar silently sipping on their own cocktails. He creates romantic, yet simultaneously repulsive characters with lines such as “the bride just pissed herself.”

With such visceral and vivid imagery, it is hard not to compare this album to the likes of directors such as Jim Jarmusch or David Lynch. These directors thrive in the dark and manipulate their viewers’ sense of intrigue and paranoia much like Bejar does on this album.

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As much as this album is visual and poignant, it is equally as politically charged. According to Bejar, while making this album, he was inspired by the band Suede. Ken was the original title for their ballad, “The Wild Ones,” so Bejar recycled it and drew inspiration from the Thatcher era. Bejar said “those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad.”

The legacy that Thatcher has left is quite certainly a divisive one, and as a figure she seems all too familiar to us in 2017. It seems as though Bejar both drew from a time of musical inspiration, and also saw parallels between the Thatcher era and today. But his references toward politics are rather hard to grasp with lyrics such as, “I can’t pay for this, All I’ve got is money.” Bejar exudes confusion, disorientation.

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Destroyer does all of this while still maintaining his classic “Destroyer” sensibilities. Distant horns in dreamy, melodic sequences on “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood,” stamps the song as his own and creates a sense of nostalgia. The instruments are fading away, Bejar is delivering poignant lyrics while his characters stay lurking at the bar, and we are left wondering how we even got to this place.

Listen if you like: Leonard Cohen, to be sad, indie directors, evocative imagery such as strange men wearing long trench coats.

Rank: 5/5