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100 Albums: "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" by of Montreal

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: of Montreal
Title: Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Released: 2007
Genre: indie glam dance-pop


of Montreal is one of my favorite bands to see live. Every time I've seen them it's just been a giant over-the-top dance party that was as weird as it was fun. The band is primarily the project of singer/composer Kevin Barnes and came out of the mid-90s Athens, Georgia pop scene--keeping in mind that this is the same college town that produced REM and The B-52's over a decade prior (both of whom have already been featured in this list!). of Montreal borrows a lot from psychedelic rock and glam, but their sound is pretty uniquely their own. of Montreal songs don't have chord progressions so much as they have sequences that modulate around. Barnes doesn't so much sing as strut around with lyrics. The music is infectiously danceable but resists sticking in your head. It's another strange one that you tend to fall in love with because of--rather than in spite of--its strangeness.

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? is the most concepty of of Montreal's catalog, per the artist about Barnes's transformation into his glam alter ego Georgie Fruit. Because any psychedelic concept album is about the artist's transformation into an alter ego. Because The Wall, I guess. Song titles are especially word-salady. Track 4 is one of the strongest on the record, and it really ought to be called Chemicals but instead it's called Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse. We also get A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger, Bunny Ain't No Kind Of Rider, and--the twelve minute anthem at the heart of the record--The Past Is A Grotesque Animal. Of course, once you dig into the lyrics, you find songs about pain and drugs and longing. It's actually quite beautiful underneath all the labrynthian pomp. Incidentally, there's also a song called Labrynthian Pomp. Which implies a certain level of self-awareness that I admire.

It's a fascinatingly bizarre album, but also unflinchingly bold and free. You should definitely give it a spin if you have the opportunity. And also see them live if you can.

Further Listening: My other favorite of Montreal album is Innocence Reaches which features the spectacular It's Different For Girls. The album's not as good as this one, but Different is probably the band's best song.

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