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best of 2007 #02: of montreal - hissing fauna, are you the destroyer?

#02: Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?


With a name like that, it's got to be good, right?

Of Montreal has been around for awhile, and has recorded a stunning 13 albums and EP's since they started recording in 1997. Kevin Barnes is their androgynous front man, and while he sounds like, so TOTALLY ghey, he's actually straight per him, and this album is about the implosion and aftermath of his breakup with his partner and baby momma. That doesn't stop him from totally getting made up so he looks fabulous and occasionally performing live in the nude.

His earlier work is some pretty clever storytelling stuff. A little too literal and precious for my tastes. I really started liking them when he kind of struck off on his own and recorded The Sunlandic Twins and Satanic Panic in the Attic. These songs were a little more sharply produced, catchy, bitchy, hook laden, and the kind of music you could get a nun to shake her bootie to. All of it pointed to a pretty enjoyable snack of a band until this year, when suddenly Kevin Barnes drops his atomic bomb in the form of Hissing Fauna.

There's some baby cooing, some gentle firecrackers, and Kevin Barnes launches into sort of a the Beatles-on-crack instrumentation and songs questioning family, god, and his own sanity. And manages to make really a hell of an album doing it.

Like the reverse kaleidoscope (black in the center, colors on the outside) on the cover of the album, Kevin walks us through every mood of loneliness from the elation of freedom, from turning every head in the joint, to being too lazy to burn down a church but wishing he could, to locking himself in an apartment for days. He says it so plainly it's almost like teenage poetry.

But... he makes such a lyrical and musical rollercoaster ride of it, I can't help but be pulled along by it. It's a great way to integrate electronic music, rock and pop music and still make something adventurous and operatic out of it.

I can see this album being too peppy for some... too uneven for others... too poppy for others... too dark for still some others. But for me I gotta break this one out every once in a while, and be fully bitchy and heartbroken, singing along:

I guess it would be nice
To give my heart to a god
But which one do i choose?
Oh, the church is filled with losers
Psycho or confused
I just want to hold the divine
In my hand and forget
all of the beauty's wasted.

All the way until he reminds us that, "Physics makes us all it's bitches."