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Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 23, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

During the last three years of Montreal have been on a tear: releasing 2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic and 2005's The Sunlandic Twins and spreading their dance party-inducing live shows to the masses. Now, of Montreal have created their masterpiece with Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? It's an irresistible and remarkable album, sounding like a logical extension of the erratic indie-disco sounds of The Sunlandic Twins. However, Hissing Fauna is also the most personal of Montreal album to date, with Kevin Barnes, lead of Montreal songwriter, pouring tremendous amounts of emotion, heartbreak, frustration and elation into its twelve tracks. Written and recorded primarily during what he calls "an insane year," Hissing Fauna sees Barnes adopt a new writing style. It's an unabashedly autobiographical attempt from a songwriter whose early material tended towards characters and story-songs. Barnes continues down the whimsical pop funk path, while changing up its lyrical scope; and Hissing Fauna balances its poppy nature while showcasing brutal and unflinching honesty.

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At first they were very twee. Then they were disco-punk, sort of. And now they are one. Kevin Barnes, this enigmatic band's prolific singer-songwriter, wrote and recorded much of this album alone, though he did enlist the help of a few friends (Alabee Blonde, the Late B.P. Helium and Heather McIntosh). Programmed handclaps, looped semi-funky bass and synth washes are the main ingredient on the Athens-based dude's Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?. Thankfully, he's still intent on mixing and matching disparate genres at whim, throwing Beach Boys' harmonies atop songs that sound more than a little like a Bowie-Eno collaboration. Lyrically, these might be the most personal songs Barnes has written. Sonically it's solid, but not as fully realized as the band's prior albums. As with any "growing pains" record, Destroyer might not make many new fans, but old ones will be pleased. The real breakthrough number, the song that hopefully hints at the band's next direction, is the twelve minute "Past Is a Grotesque Animal," a lovely and percolating New Wave motorik number that recalls the neon splendor of La Dusseldorf while referencing Georges Bataille. It's really good, and makes the listener fondly yearn for one's college days. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 23, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polyvinyl Records
  • ASIN: B000KWZ94U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,626 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first time I heard this album, I was actually a little disappointed, expecting something less... well, glammy. But after each listen, it grew more on me, and now I think it's one of my favorite albums ever. I think it ranks up there with other "classic" albums, and I think this will be one of the best if not THE best of 2007. I don't know what it is about it, but I've listened to it about 20 times in the last 2 weeks. It's extremely infectious - well-written, arranged, produced, and performed - extremely catchy but deep enough to enjoy many times over. It's an all-around great album.
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Format: Audio CD
In January of 2006, I had the privilege of being able to see Of Montreal, my absolute favorite band, live. But something was wrong. The band was great, the music was fantastic, but something was terribly, inexplicably wrong. While the band was playing one of their songs from 2005's "The Sunlandic Twins," two teenage girls who looked like they were more suited for a Britney Spears concert jumped on stage and started "skank-dancing" and kept it up for the duration of the song. I thought to myself, "apparently you can dance like that to anything now." But then I realized that perhaps Of Montreal, a band who has long relied on Kevin Barnes' ability to craft intricate, delusional stories and turn them in to equally difficult songs, had become way too accessible for its own good. Don't get me wrong, "The Sunlandic Twins" was a fantastic album, and a huge achievement for Of Montreal, but maybe they took it a bit too far. I can see a promiscuous 16-year-old dancing to "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games," but not to "Niki Coco and the Invisible Tree." Something was wrong. The Of Montreal I've loved for years was finally tainted by the irrepressible image of two underage girls dancing like a couple of strippers. To redeem themselves, Of Montreal had to do something drastic. They had to make an album that combined the best of their new sound, with the best of their old sound. Fortunately, "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?" does just that! Once again, Of Montreal is back on top!

The lead-off track on the album is "Suffer for Fashion," a song I had the opportunity of hearing live the last time the band came through my town. The song gets the energy going, and it never really dies down after that.
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Format: Audio CD
And so starts another break-up album. But wait, where are the strings? Where are the plaintive acoustic guitar strums? Why doesn't the music sound, you know, sad? Not since Death From Above 1979's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine has a break-up album been so well disguised. While most poor saps show up to the party with a broken half of their heart on either sleeve, Of Montreal main man Kevin Barnes would rather come dressed in a bright colorful coat and shout obscenities through a smile. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? makes use of exuberant synth-pop as release therapy. Each track makes a claim for the dance floor as a form of liberation. Basically, it makes parting ways sound like a party.

Ditching most of the classic psych-pop of their Elephant 6 days, Hissing builds even more toward the direction hinted at on their last two efforts. Clocking in at barely over a minute, "Sink The Seine" is the only remnant. It opens with a chorus of "La La La's" sounding like a modern day Beatles song; from then on, it's genreally new territory.

While it's a party on the musical end, the lyrical substance is nothing short of depressing. The album was created in the wake of Kevin's separation from his wife, not your average two-year-relationship-gone-wrong. The centerpiece of the album, "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal" is an eleven-minute psychological rant full of non-sequitors. "I guess you just want to shave your head have drink and be left alone?" Kevin asks himself in third person on "Cato As A Pun". "Is that too much to ask?" he replies. "Come on mood shift, shift back to good again" he begs on "Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse" over a bed of rumbling synths before they erupt into a cheerful chorus. It's as if he has nothing but the music to persuade him.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love this album, and so do my two kids. When my son was 3, he called this album 'My Music,' and requested it every time we got in the car. Never too early to expose kids to great music. :)

My favorite song: Gronlandic Edit, which also contains my favorite lyrics: I guess it would be nice to give my heart to a god but which one, which one do I choose? Although She's a Rejector is absolutely brilliant and comes in second with: like a robocop, strike me with your riding crop! (which is even sexier to see Kevin Barnes sing it live in a hot pink mini skirt!)
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This album is like opening up a door to the musical equivalent of Wonderland. The bizarre and slightly unsettling themes and mood pair perfectly with masterfully crafted melodies and arrangement. If you enjoy music that isn't pre-packaged and emotionless and actually shows some artistic liberty, you will love this album. If you don't like "weird" music, this probably isn't for you.
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