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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews



Despite the remnants of a few broken Rubik's cubes and several packets of Pop Rocks, experts have found it near impossible to visualise what life was really like in the 1980s. Some have even debated whether the 80s really existed. Most knowledge of the era is based around legend and hearsay, folk tales passed along by battle scarred warriors and elderly Medicine Men around the 3D family campfire. And as we post-1990s kids huddled close together, occasionally feeding the fire with old vinyl records, the wizened sages would tell us tales of mystery, imagination and how good MTV used to be. Seeing the skepticism in our expressions, they would smile knowingly at each other and reach for the cracked and worn Destroyer record, the nearest recreation of an era lost to the fires of Time. With each twist of swirling synths and driving bass, entire sonic civilisations materialised, the numbness within us melted, an era was resurrected. Then, culminating in a truly magnificent finale, the last notes faded, leaving the elders with glistening eyes, making our cave seem all the more empty.

Although hardly a new trend, these last few years have seen a resurgence of retro sensibilities, be it 60s surf rock from the likes of Best Coast, the Britpop inspired Smith Westerns or the 90s hazepop of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Bands have increasingly begun re-appropriating the sound of a bygone era and injecting some of their own personality into the mix. This nostalgia fascination society has recruited a new member to the club with Destroyer's latest release, Kaputt. Mastermind Daniel Bejar has played with various influences in the past, but never has one of his albums felt more cohesive and comfortably unified in its sound. Although this is a near perfect stab at early 80s synth rock, the music transcends age boundaries, finding a common ground amongst widely differing people. Escapism, young love, and other universal themes slide in an out of focus. At times this record is a night of rampant partying, being drunk on life and cheap wine. At others it's the peaceful languor of the morning after. More often than not it's both at the same time. Also, if you're not sure of the quality of a given album, you can usually gauge it by observing the sheer amount of trumpets and saxophones used. Kaputt certainly fulfills that requirement, ending up more horn-y than a goat and a rhino getting intimate at a Kenny G concert.

But the shiny 80s synth pop veneer is only the tip of the ice berg. Scratch away the surface and you'll find Destroyer just keeps on giving. Bejar's lyrical content is often stuffed with oblique poetry, sometimes completely indecipherable but always memorable. Whether lamenting racial discrimination on Suicide Demo For Kara Walker or amusingly insulting the press on Blue Eyes, Bejar approaches it with sincerity and intelligence. What at first appears to sound like a starry-eyed plea about life or love turns out to be, after repeated listens, a list of passionately crooned music magazines. Who thought music journalism could be so emotionally affecting? And there are only so many people alive that can utter the words "I've seen it all", and make you believe it in every sense of the phrase. You can jump into the Destroyer hole and fall as deep as you want to.

So we continue to live through other people's memories, combining them with our own and making something truly unique. And as the plastic from an old 7" bubbles and hisses in the flame, dimly lighting the cavern, it feels like our only means of survival. Take the best of our past, unite it with what little we have, and forge our own personal future.

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