by: Vivian Lee
When I break up with someone and I feel as if I want to die, I put on…well, I guess I listen to any Bright Eyes album. But sometimes, in the throes of post-separation anxiety duress, even MY emo-psyche can’t handle that much pain and sorrow. My brain (and I guess my heart) would need a time-out — a pause for refreshment. I’d still want those break-up lyrics, but I’d need a pop melody that makes me forget that I’m sad. This is where Of Montreal’s new album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? comes into play.
Lead singer Kevin Barnes writes lyrics that aren’t just about moping. Under Barnes musical spell, every emotional aspect of a breakup is fleshed out. Picking up the pieces in the aftermath of a relationship? Listen to “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” Need an anthem about needing a lover with “soul power” (whatever that means)? Barnes has you covered with “Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider.” Want to hire someone to hit your ex? “She’s a Rejecter” has your back.
As silly as many of Hissing Fauna’s notions and song titles may seem, this is indeed a concept album. Strange, perhaps. Did “Of Montreal” — known for their semi- vaudevillian hybrid of gloomy lyrics and bouncy melodies — ever do a concept album? Whatever your answer, there is the dark, sad lengthy cohesive segment to Hissing. In fact, everything is brokenheartsville up to the 12-minute climatic “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” — which serves as the “I AM SOOOO OVER YOU” coda.
“Faberge Falls for Shuggie” is full of double entendres played over a sexy and funky synth. Barnes sings, “Be careful how you touch me / My body is an earthquake.” Forget that R&B jam you heard on the radio. I would rather spin this — but that may be because I love my multi-layered similes.
So, O.K. What’s the verdict on Of Montreal’s new album: not everyone is going to like it. It is definitely a different step. A step in the right direction? Yeah. Barnes has really stepped up and has written some great pop songs that make this album one of the best this year.
Now, if I can only find someone to break up with.