Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Murder Pop: Of Montreal "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?"

Before hearing this album, my previous exposure to Of Montreal was decidedly limited. I saw them at a club in Orlando once. I found them charming, if not odd, but never really gave them much thought after that. Perhaps there is something wrong with me. I've heard a lot since then how amazing their live show is supposed to be. I don't know; I guess it just didn't leave an impression on me. Oh, and I think I liked a single off of their last LP that they played on the XM radio at work a few times. Anyway, their latest lauded work is marginally more memorable than anything I've heard from them before--limited as that may be. In fact, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is just about the strangest piece of post-pop I've heard in a great long while. A masterpiece of geekdom, really, it is also probably the best album I've heard so far this year.

A loose concept album, it takes the separation of front man Kevin Barnes from his now reconciled wife and traverses on a triumphantly subversive trail filled with deep-seated viciousness and mild forms of redemption that surprise and comfort around every corner. The songs are criminally catchy, Wilson-esque romps through genre fusing that are actually impressive as opposed to simply trying to be impressive. It has this distinct identity that would be borderline over-bearing if the emotional resonance that the album is able to carefully instill wasn't so delicately applied. It is a rare occurrence of the sound being larger than subject matter, which is hardly ever the case with your garden-variety break-up album.

The lyrical journeys Barnes takes us on only take a backseat to the album's overall composition. Everything is just loose to enough to have the appearance of control but the possibility of chaos at any moment. And when that catharsis comes, it is both earned and welcome. The album's best track, "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal" speaks volumes to this point. It's monotonous style and layered landscape go on for so long that you simply forget the song it started as; anger and bitterness take hold of the track, and it really only seems like the natural progression. "We want our film to be beautiful, not realistic!" There is never anything too overblown here, and when there is, you want it to be overblown. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? digs its claws into you as expertly as any album I've heard in years. Cheesy as it sounds, it's like you become FRIENDS. "Let's tear this place apart. Let's tear the fucking house apart." I'm right behind you, Kevin.

1 comment:

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I'm so changing the blog motto (blog-tto?) to "A masterpiece of geekdom."