Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008
This is a sonic return to Satanic Panic in the Attic and treads on uncharted thematic territory for Of Montreal. That is, this record is fucking depressing. It's also my favorite record Kevin Barnes has produced. The single “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” sums up this record pretty well: It captures the pop-concept perfectly, that is, singing misery over upbeat melodies and bright arrangements. I could probably write an essay about this record. There are so many things going on. It is a concept album not just about a divorce, but about Kevin Barnes transformation into the mythical sex-funk trannie singer Georgie Fruit. The transition happens after “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” in which having purged all of this information he has a mental breakdown of sorts as a coping mechanism. Or that's how I read it. How could he not. “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” the 12 minute centerpiece of Hissing Fauna is one of the rawest things I've ever heard, emotion spewing wise. It's an ultimate break-up song of sorts. The double LP actually includes the Icons, Abstract Thee EP on the fourth side, which is allegedly 4 songs that precede “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” but were cut for the sake of the album's flow. This is a good thing, because the sequencing on this record is fucking jawdropping. The flow, especially on the second half of the record, is constructed like one long piece featuring a series of movements. The last four songs are strung together, the most potent pairing being the insanely catchy single “She's a Rejecter” with the catharsis of “We Were Born the Mutants Again With Leafling.” It's as if Georgie Fruit is subdued (perhaps do to a chemical reaction hinted at in “Heimdalsgate”) and Kevin Barnes is commenting on “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” seeing the brighter side of things...kind of. “Sometimes we're not legible/ But we're the same strange animal,” Barnes sings. He follows that in the next verse with “We won't let it end in disaster/ You are my twin, no I will never go there,” referencing The Sunlandic Twins (as the Sunlandic Twins are Kevin and his wife Nina, I guess). Man, this is a hard record to write about. So much is going on and this record is so important to me. One of my ultimate, go-to records for heartache. I think the reason Barnes cut the 4 songs on the 4th side is because they're too happy. It throws off the record. “Du Og Meg” is a love song that tells of he and his wife's first meeting. Their meeting is also mentioned in “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” (“I fell in love with the first cute girl that I met/ Who could appreciate George Bataille/ Standing at a Swedish festival/ Discussing “Story of the Eye”), but this version, with this triumphant horns, is just too fucking happy. “No Conclusion,” however, is a fuckin' downer. It's the pit of hopelessness. It doesn't work quite as well as “Grotesque Animal,” but it's full of good sad-bastardy lines like “I'm allergic to the world when we're separated” and “I never, ever, ever wanted to write this song/ I always thought things would change somehow.” It's pretty good, actually, and sad as hell. Imagine “Grotesque Animal” but about suicidal thoughts (turning to meta-suicidal thoughts) in traditional upbeat Of Montreal style. OK. Done writing about this.
And because I'm a glutton for punishment. Although turning it into an emo song isn't THAT farfetched: