Destroyer - ken
Critic Score
Based on 21 reviews
2017 Rank: #217 / 629
User Score
Based on 103 ratings
Your Review

CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Independent
According to Dan Bejar, the title to Destroyer’s 12th, and possibly best, album came to him upon learning that it was the original name for the ballad “The Wild Ones”. This epiphanic moment (“I was physically struck by this information”) led to its appropriation for a set of songs seething with dark knowledge, as Bejar peeks behind the curtain of appearances in search of underlying motivations.
90
Northern Transmissions

ken is a subtle masterpiece that brings out emotion and beauty for a record that truly feels sublime.

88
GIGsoup
Regardless of one’s first-take evaluations of ‘ken’, repetition will inevitably draw listeners closer to this underrated gem.
85
The Line of Best Fit

ken isn't a nostalgic album. Instead Destroyer borrows a romantic sense of doom from New Order without romanticizing the music or the time and comfortably works it into Bejar’s own aesthetic, one that is equal measures unhinged and detached, urbane and sensuous.

80
Drowned in Sound

ken’s a grower. It’s not going to immediately colonise one’s affections in the way the best Destroyer records do, but it will slowly get there, even if some will immediately dismiss it as a supposedly 'weak entry' in the Destroyer catalogue.

80
musicOMH

Comfortably surpassing Poison Season, ken is hugely listenable throughout, and with so many ‘80s touchpoints in evidence, it often sounds like it could actually have been made at that time.

80
AllMusic
Taken together, his typical existential outlook combined with a heavier presence of New Order-like industrial timbres make this a somewhat darker album, but still delightfully Destroyer.
80
The 405

This album scales back significantly from the relative bombast of Destroyer's grand Poison Season in favor of a more intimate, simple setting. Stranding himself nearly alone – aside from longtime collaborator Josh Wells – Bejar hunkered down to record the simultaneously unconcerned and emotional splash that is Ken.

80
DIY
Finding some middle ground between ‘Poison Season’ and ‘Kaputt’, ‘ken’ brings synths and some elements of the ’80s back into the mix, but still keeps a slightly sullen air to proceedings.
80
Exclaim!

With ken, he has once again delivered an excellent record that offers both sonic surprises and familiar idiosyncrasies.

80
Slant Magazine

ken does share some cosmetic similarities with Kaputt, but where that album was airy and intricate, full of multi-instrument melodic lines constantly intertwining in a spacious sonic playground, this one is much less reliant on band dynamics. The album is murky and claustrophobic but still consistently melodic.

80
The Guardian

Ken isn’t quite as cohesive as 2011’s outstanding breakthrough, Kaputt, but makes another fine addition to the canon.

79
Pitchfork

Like one of Lynch’s filmic worlds, ken is elegant and perverse, a reflection on where we came from, and the unbelievable place we seem to have ended up.

75
A.V. Club

While the band’s last three releases in this mode—the Bay Of Pigs EP, Kaputt, and Poison Season—saw a consistent growth in their confidence and vibrancy, they’ve all shared a lushness that made them immediately warm and enveloping. Ken is a far more distant album.

75
Consequence of Sound

Overall, ken is one of Destroyer’s most accessible albums. It features nary a song over six minutes and several under three, its sounds are compact and crisp, and its arrangements are clever and cohesive.

75
Under The Radar
There's a strong '80s vibe across the usual selection of soaring synths, proggish guitar work, and obscure lyrics. This isn't so much a Destroyer reinvention, something Bejar has done countless times before, as it is a gradual shift into the highlights of a decade he's always had a thing for.
70
Loud and Quiet
The Canadian singer-songwriter’s fascination for all thing British is no big news, it’s just that where David Bowie informed much of his previous work, here it gets the early ’90s experience (via another band of Bowie nuts), with synth infused, metallic-sounding tracks, filled with nasal voices and tambourines.
58
Pretty Much Amazing
Usually, when a reliable act like Destroyer puts out a disappointment, you hold out for the next one. This is the kind that makes you want to go back and listen to his older stuff, if only to remind you he’s capable of wonders.
50
Tiny Mix Tapes

Rather than doing a lot with a little, ken is just… little.

50
God Is in the TV

Sadly, half of the album sounds like he’s on autopilot and despite trying to make ken a concise listen, it drags.

50
The Needle Drop

Destroyer's latest record is an awkward helping of new wave pastiche.

Aug 15, 2017
aaronshell
80
"A NEW ALBUM FROM DESTROYER????"
AOTY for sure
Nov 2, 2017
Music_Observer
66
The musicians had a nice clean slate approach that came through with sharp texture changes and prominent guitar effects, but without much pleasantry or color the sound wasn’t overwhelmingly successful and didn’t deserve to be the crux of the entire work, as the songwriting suffered from being ordinary and awkward despite keeping a basic level of interest. My Score: 118/180 (Good) = 66/100
Oct 27, 2017
kidhead
63
not the album i was waiting for, but dan bejar's music has always been that kind of special
Oct 26, 2017
DiegoPaim01
78
O legal do Destroyer é que parece que ele ta sempre escrevendo o mesmo disco, de formas diferentes. Neste disco não é muito diferente...suas influências do synth pop, indie folk, jazz e chamber pop se juntam e aparecem por quase todas as ideias que ele apresenta aqui, e talvez por isso seja tão dificil descrevê-lo em algm gênero musical. O fato é que sua música explora bastante aspectos melódicos das cordas - sejam celos, ... read more
Oct 25, 2017
unknownpleasure
79
ken has grown on me for sure. There are subtle and not so subtle similarities that almost make this a Kaputt part 2. Definitely not Destroyer's best piece of work, but does Dan Bejar really put out anything bad? This is just a really enjoyable record.
END OF YEAR LISTS
#78/Drowned in Sound
Track List
  1. Sky’s Grey
  2. In the Morning
  3. Tinseltown Swimming in Blood
  4. Cover From the Sun
  5. Saw You at the Hospital
  6. A Light Travels Down the Catwalk
  7. Rome
  8. Sometimes in the World
  9. Ivory Coast
  10. Stay Lost
  11. La Regle du Jeu


Added on: August 8, 2017