Destroyer - ken
Critic Score
Based on 24 reviews
2017 Ratings: #300 / 717
User Score
Based on 155 ratings
2017 Ratings: #225
October 20, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Merge / Label
Synthpop, Art Pop / Genres
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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
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
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 Guardian

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

80
Exclaim!

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

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
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
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
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.

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
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.
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.

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.

aaronshell
80
"A NEW ALBUM FROM DESTROYER????"
AOTY for sure
rosevean
73
#7. Rome
#11 La Regle du Jeu
Doofy
89
Bejar takes one step back and two steps forward as he resurrects the smooth stylings of 2011's 'Kaputt', only adding 'currently on trend' Tron synths and other various Gosling-in-'Drive' retro-isms to the brew.

The good news is the track flow is back to 'smooth as butter' level after the sometimes jumpy transitions of 'Poison Season', and the instrumental backdrop successfully builds a nostalgia drenched cityscape to rival even 'Kaputt's-ville.

The only negative I can come up with is it'd ... read more
CheapandLethal
60
Fairly uninspiring
58
Coming off as a less ambitious and less compelling version of his far superior 2011 release “Kaputt,” “Ken” is Destroyer by numbers. If male vocalists were slapped with the “quirky” label more often, Dan Bejar would be a regular recipient of this backhanded compliment. One of his talents is his ability to use this quirk to bring out the best in his songs and arrangements; but quirk alone cannot carry an album without it becoming annoying. Some of the songs ... read more
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END OF YEAR LISTS

#16/SPIN
#75/Under the Radar
#78/Drowned in Sound
/Slate

MISC LISTS

#19/Pitchfork (Rock)

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
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Added on: August 8, 2017