of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (2007): Review

montreal

Produced by Kevin Barnes
Label Polyvinyl

It seems so obvious now, that the perfect method to extract the optimum artistic performance from a kooky American singer/musician is to send him to live in a small town in Norway, let the self imposed alienation settle into his transom, and then send him back to the States to report his findings on the next album. Light the touch paper marked “unhinged” and boom! You’ve got the most generically disparate and creatively oblique album of his career. For Athens Georgia band Of Montreal (or rather, leader Kevin Barnes plus family and a few friends), output has always been un-tethered cosmic idiosyncrasies about nothing in particular. His decision to exile he and his wife in Norway has formed a lyrical content washed in dark and sometimes traumatic episodes of isolation and depressions, culminating in the 12 minute hope sucking epic “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” that splits the album in two. Its ceaseless synth cycle of New Orderish soundscapes and Barnes’s cacophonous shrieks, maniacally throwing out pain, and insecurity will ultimately form one’s defining judgement on the merits of “Hissing Fauna…” as a whole. This reviewer loves it.

mont

For subject matter so down hearted, Barnes creates music that is conversely buoyant, melodic and in most cases, catchy as hell. Taking much from early eighties British electro Pop, he weaves his lonely lyrics into some soaring choruses including “Gronlandic Edit” with its outstanding descending harmonies, the wanton and upbeat throwaway nature of “A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger” is so at odds with Barnes’ state of mind as he sings “I spent the winter on the verge of a total breakdown while living in Norway,”. The single, “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” highlights the musical mood succinctly with the most gloriously bubbling keyboard melody that, if one wasn’t listening to the lyrics (“I’m in a crisis, I need help, come on mood shift back to good again”), would think the song was about baby lambs, pretty girls and smiling babies. “She’s A Rejector” sees Barnes as the rejected lover, as he angrily blurts “There’s a girl that left me bitter, I want to pay another girl to walk up to her and hit her”, all played out in a Bowie/Low era Disco mulch. It’s all a tale of contradictions, upbeat and sad, dark lyrics, light music, all totally compelling, and worth every minute of your attention.

“Hissing Fauna…” is so much more than 12 odd titles, it’s a rare treat, a tingling mess of memorable moments.

8/10

1.”Suffer for Fashion” – 2:59
2.”Sink the Seine” – 1:04
3.”Cato as a Pun” – 3:02
4.”Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” – 3:18
5.”Gronlandic Edit” – 3:24
6.”A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” – 4:54
7.”The Past Is a Grotesque Animal” – 11:52
8.”Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider” – 3:51
9.”Faberge Falls for Shuggie” – 4:31
10.”Labyrinthian Pomp” – 3:21
11.”She’s a Rejecter” – 4:02
12.”We Were Born the Mutants Again with Leafling” – 4:57

Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse

Gronlandic Edit

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