Saturday, November 1, 2008

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

I can't tell how good of a place this is to start listening to Of Montreal. It was a very highly acclaimed album, but was written and recorded almost entirely by Kevin Barnes without the band's help, and is a bit of a departure thematically. In any case, it's a damn good album. It's a bit hard to describe the sound, sort of indie pop with a lot of electronic and psychedelic elements. Barnes' high voice and the catchy choruses belie the dark lyrics, written during a bad time in his life. He's better now, but you can see how it must have affected him. I appreciate that aspect of the album's creation, but the main reason I like it is the music is entertaining to listen to. Yet more proof that I'm turning into an indie dork that will like anything if it's unique.

Being a story of his separation from his wife and descent into depression, there's a clear arc to the album, as it builds towards something and gets more chaotic and surprising later on. Early tracks like "Suffer for Fashion", "Cato as a Pun", and "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger" feature poppy refrains, nice synth melodies, and some more traditional rock sensibilities. The album climaxes about halfway through with the nearly twelve minute long epic "The Past is a Grotesque Animal", driving constantly forward with a nice bassline and creepy vocal hook as Barnes examines what's happening to him. The song really hit me the first time I heard it on the way home; besides the quality of the song, you can really feel the despair. The rest of the album doesn't seem that different musically, but you get sort of a different vibe as it's more out in the open with the subject matter. There are more frequent moments of odd musical choices, but it seems natural and gives the whole a record a consistent artistic feel. Really something I wish I heard before I chose last year's best albums.

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