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CD Reviews - Of Montreal
Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
January 2007
By: Blair Bryant
album cover of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? by Of Montreal

While coming off of yet another superb year for the indie music scene, Of Montreal continues to keep the ball rolling into 2007 with their eighth full-length album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? One of several intertwined bands emerging from the Elephant Six Collective, the Athens, Georgia-based band made good on the expectation to live up to their previous critically acclaimed album The Sunlandic Twins.

Hissing Fauna is arguably the most personal Of Montreal album to date for lead singer Kevin Barnes mainly because a vast majority of it was recorded by Barnes himself while splitting his time between Athens and Norway, as well as dealing with a lot of personal issues which life had dealt him during that time period. Going in the experimental direction in which the adaptation of 80's synth-pop, 70's funk and glam rock create the overall backdrop of the album, Hissing Fauna picks up where The Sunlandic Twins left off. With the title track Suffer for Fashion, Of Montreal ushers in their new sound yet doesn't completely abandon their signature psychedelic indie pop sound fans have grown accustomed to. Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse is yet another example of this, while the cartoonish pop strategically veils the highs and lows of drug use throughout the song itself. Gronlandic Epic has one of the strongest glam rock and funk influences, in which the vocals seem to have a soulful gospel choir undertone. This is amusing considering the irony of the fact that the track also addresses Barnes contempt for organized religion. The Past Is A Grotesque Animal appropriately ties the rest of the album together, as the epic song is placed in the middle of the album. The creepy synthesizers, haunting basslines and unforgiving background vocals further add to the anguish in Barnes's voice as he delves deep into the melancholy he has experienced. If the idea is to bring listeners into that very place he was in, he does a good job at it. At some point, it becomes easy to start feeling sorry for the guy even though that doesn't appear to be his intention. Things take an even more interesting turn with the funk-fueled Faberge Falls for Shuggie which showcases Of Montreal's talent as a surprisingly soulful band as well as Barnes's vocal range. Hissing Fauna ends with the solid We Were Born the Mutants Again with Leafling.

Despite the dance aerobic beats, Of Montreal presents a more serious tone, ranging from issues of the dissolving of romantic relationships to isolation and depression. One of the best aspects of Hissing Fauna is Barnes's refusal of the sound of the album to be just as morbid despite going through some rough patches in his personal life. Considering the emotional overtones of the album as a whole, Of Montreal does not stray from the unexpected shifts within tracks, wacky double entendres and outlandish song titles they're also known for. Although this year is filled with anticipated releases from Arcade Fire, Interpol and Blonde Redhead to name a few, it is safe to say that Of Montreal is kicking off 2007 with one of the strongest albums to come out of this year.