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Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

After an impressive showing with 2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic and a jubilant follow-up in 2005's Sunlandic Twins, Of Montreal captain Kevin Barnes fell on some peculiar times. The birth of a daughter, alienation and depression in Norway, and subsequent separation from his wife and new child gave him plenty to mull over, work out, and serve up on 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? At first glance, longtime Of Montreal followers might throw up their arms in dismay as Barnes moves well away from the usual slice-of-life character studies he's made such good use of over the past few years — no pop-challenged London cabbies or paranoid senior citizens on Hissing. No sir. In fact, it's all about him — every stitch of it. It's Kevin Barnes trying to woo himself out of a deep funk ("Suffer for Fashion," "Sink the Seine," and especially "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse"), lashing out ("She's a Rejecter"), or taking a dip in the self-pity pool (the epic wallower "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal" is nearly 12 minutes of drone-dance affirmations). At first, it's an alarming listening experience. Where's the self-assured, polished pop maestro who made such a fine showing on the past two albums? He took one hell of a beating, that's for sure. The Kevin Barnes heard here has a bone to pick, issues to work out, and a big ol' chip on his shoulder — and, man, does it show. The music and production reflect this as much as the lyrical content. Barnes throws every trick in his book at every arrangement, lending every track a definite "I'll show you!!" vibe. And show he does. The explosive opener, "Suffer for Fashion," exceeds every over the top anthem he's ever penned in one 2:58 ejaculation, and the alternately swaggering and smooth "Cato as a Pun" melds a gutsy guitar riff with a gorgeously fussed-over verse. Production-wise, it's quite an achievement — the whole thing — and, coupled with the bile and bitterness of the lyrics, makes for an exhausting experience in the headphones. There might be stray moments of whimsy, in the tunes and verse, but they are scant, and they hardly provide the lighthearted breathing room fans are used to receiving from the man. "Light" is not a word useful in describing any portion of this excursion, and the serious tone of this record may cause some hand wringing among even the dedicated. It's a challenging but ultimately rewarding album — and one that definitely requires some thoughtful attention from the listener. Don't stow this one back on the shelf just yet — it's a "grower." ~ J. Scott McClintock, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Labyrinthine

Imagine if pop music kept evolving constantly, instead of the constant detours back to the 60's,70's,80's,90's where bands pilfer everything that has come before. Imagine if artists refined their music until it was free of cliche, and not slavish to trends/bands/scenes, like just about everyone else. This would be an impossible dream of course, because it's next to impossible to not influence by what you have heard. Of montreal's songwriter, barnes, seems to be trying to put this theory into practice. This is some of the most innovative, original and fresh music around, yet it's rooted into the great soil of rock history. It's a modern continuum of what began in the 60's with the beach boys and the beatles, and everything that came after- And instead of sounding like some history course of pop music- it's sounds like nothing else. This band deserves to be really, really big. They may not be, because the music is so schizophrenic, but if there is any justice, they will provide inspiration for many bands to come.

Inspired

one of the best- no strike that- the best album I've heard in years. witty clever lyrics, intricate and at times surprising arrangements an amazing, brilliant piece of work. every track is great, but for me the highlights are Gronlandic Edit, Labyrinthian pomp, She's a rejecter, and We were born the Mutants- you know I'm tempted to list every track as a highlight- it's that good let this work its magic on you, you won't regret it (I've never heard anything else of Of Montreal's so I'm not a fan boy- just genuinely impressed with this truly great collection of songs)

mad album

electronic classic indie rave whatever they are doing they are doing it right!!

Biography

Formed: 1996 in Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The brainchild of singer/guitarist Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal was among the second wave of bands to emerge from the sprawling Elephant 6 collective. A native of Athens, Georgia, Barnes was inspired to form the euphoric indie pop group in the wake of a broken romance with a woman from Montreal. He signed with Bar/None Records while living in Florida, subsequently moved to Cleveland and Minneapolis in search of compatible bandmates, and finally returned home to collaborate with bassist Bryan Helium...
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