Of Montreal
Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?


3.5
great

Review

by Louis Arp EMERITUS
January 23rd, 2007 | 97 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Musical docent Kevin Barnes continues his plunge into the Eighties with his most pointed foray into synthpop, disco and Paisley Underground psychedelia.

A long time ago, on a record label far, far away, Kevin Barnes sang songs about flying nuns and other such bull***. An ardent disciple of the Lennon-McCartney process, he rocked mad Daevid Allen whimsy, worshiped Wilsonian harmonies and probably adored the overbearing Englishness of Davies and Davies a little too much. Barnes was at the forefront of the independent psychedelic pop revival, kin to the Elephant Six family and fond of recording sugary concept albums for a faerie ‘n’ fay crowd with such a pop sweet tooth appetite that their dentists wrote mildly stern letters of concern to Emperor Norton Records.

Those days have long since passed. Today, Barnes is on a whole other musical route. Daevid Allen has been usurped by David Bowie, the Davies boys replaced by the Soft Boys. Like his previous two releases, Satanic Panic in the Attic and The Sunlandic Twins, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? finds Barnes alone, leaning heavily on synthpop banality dressed in just enough paisley to warrant existence. Today, Barnes strokes the flame of a burnt out Eighties dance party, tip-toes across jagged, post-punk angularity and finds his muse in scenester dramas.

Now, if you’ve been hauling through since those days of four-track odes to Dustin Hoffman, it’s probably been pretty tempting to squawk “sell-out!” from the rafters. Not only has Barnes completely shifted his game over the course of the past few years, he’s gone over the commercial edge, hocking his wares off for Outback Steakhouse and NASDAQ adverts. But it would be a lot easier to burn the guy at the stake if he wasn’t still capable of such sickly tart pop delight. Despite the sonic about face, Barnes remains armed with an imaginative sense of harmony and a certain outlandishly garish grip on pop song craft. In the pre-Satanic era this meant twee-as-*** song cycle sing-a-longs about fantastical creatures; latter day Barnes employs his skills in the pursuit of motorik pop cyclones like the 12 minute “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” and other still saccharine, jive-ass indie disco spasms.

Oddly, under this seemingly insincere veneer, Barnes also finds a backdrop for the most personal lyrics of his career. Arguably prone to keeping reality at a pyschotropic, allegoric distance, Barnes tackles reality without insecurity throughout the album, touching on everything from his marriage to reclusive self-medication to awkward Athenian courtship rituals. The infective rhythm of “Gronlandic Edit” is perhaps the best example; the picturesque three-minute pop tune built on Barnes’ fabled multi-tracked self-harmonizing delves deep into his personal anxieties, his lack of faith and even the questions of creative sincerity. “All the party people dancing for the indie star,” Barnes sings over the rigid handclaps, “he’s the worst faker by far.”

But the key appeal of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is not sincerity or lyricism, it’s the glossy mutant groove. And when the album loses the plot in a bog of prickly Prince falsettos and overwrought East Bay funk, one ought not hesitate to hit that skip button. Just goes to show that Of Montreal, whether doting on their indie roots or creating dance pop tizzies, gravitates towards a gaudy kind of magnetism. It’s forgivable because in the end, Hissing Fauna proves itself a glittery slice of contagious queer pomp that’ll make anyone with a hint of soul power concede to the dance floor.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Intransit
January 23rd 2007


2797 Comments


Good work mr. crumb. Always nice to see you reviewing.

The Jungler
January 23rd 2007


4827 Comments


The title and the song name The Past is a Grotesque Animal alone might make me check this out. Honestly, I've been wanting to listen to this band for a while and never have.
Brilliant review as always.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2007


2688 Comments


I streamed this a couple months ago when it first came out. It's not really my thing, but I was able to stomach it and didn't think it was that terrible. So much for me striving to be more optimistic towards the more noxious genres.
Typically stellar review as well.

Zebra
Moderator
January 23rd 2007


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a solid album, it's certaintly an improvement from the lackluster Sunlandic Twins but it still doesn't compare their earlier material.
Great work on the review. The length was perfect.

sgrevs
January 23rd 2007


698 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gronlandic Edit and Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider pwn. Brilliant review.

Neoteric
January 24th 2007


3243 Comments


Well well, looked who dropped in.

gg Crumb.

MrKite
January 25th 2007


5020 Comments


Nice review, very nice.
I'm a little interested in this band.

Sepstrup
January 25th 2007


1563 Comments


Crumb writes good reviews

Zmev
February 6th 2007


983 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lets just say Crumb is the destroyer.

TojesDolan
February 12th 2007


271 Comments


I don't really enjoy this kind of musics, but the first track is midly enjoyable.

liebherk
February 12th 2007


164 Comments


I saw the video for the single (Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse, I think) and it just struck me as very, very wierd, and not in a good way. Honestly not something I could see myself getting into.

Kyle
February 12th 2007


667 Comments


Great review sir.

I really like this album.

sadisticmonkey
February 14th 2007


107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

best album of 2007 thus far!

4.5

pulseczar
February 19th 2007


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Labyrinthian Pomp is sooo annoying but i still like this.

Catchthe22
March 8th 2007


95 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Every enjoyable review to read. Flows smooth and is the perfect length for flipping through reviews.

i like the album too.

Paiste.Fan.
August 16th 2007


19 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

mhmm of montreal. Its good for every time of the day

drewhnovak
October 28th 2007


41 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ah, this is such a great album. You really have to listen to it straight through a few times for it to make its full impact, which I love.

DWittisarockstar
January 8th 2008


1501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This surprised me.

whatduffhuck7
March 5th 2008


163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

cato as a pun is awesome. along with a few others.

Little too poppy though. good album though.

I like the vocal layers

Sleutheren
June 22nd 2009


16 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

How has no one mentioned the utter devastation that this album captures? It's landmark for pop/indie music.

The album details the emotional catastrophe he endured in the split with his wife. Spiraling into a self loathing state of worthlessness, Barnes reincarnates himself mentally as a black shemale with a personality that contrasts his own just so he can deal with the emotional overload. Yes, a black shemale. Named Georgie Fruit. It's fucked, yet incredible.

The album is stuffed to breaking point with amazingly catchy hooks and choruses and features some the most inspiring track changes I've heard.

Barnes is a genius.



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