Recordings: Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

    Mopey, sad-eyed torment goes pedestrian when bitch-slapped by Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? – goddammit, this is under-your-skin, warped-drum-machine torment. And all when just a year and a half ago, Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes was kicked back like a Georgia peach with his neat little set of sunnies, enjoying a pleasant spurt of indie pop fame and a newborn baby girl on the side.

    But a lot’s gone down since Sunlandic Twins, and apparently not of the smiley sort. From the opening urgency of “”Suffer for Fashion”” – disguised as a tight-knit ball-roller, but quickly unraveling into a fit of feverish “”Together!”” pleas – something isn’t right. Track two begins winding back down that familiar river toward the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, only to trail off after a mere nervous minute. The disco machine starts to burble and stutter as space twee’s most self-assured pipes are reduced to stammering about crises and feel-better chemicals, impulsively choiring and scaling in the realms of Queendom, and it’s clear: Someone’s love has gone painfully sour.

    Barnes and friends have never been wholly without morbid undertones to their body-moving beats, but with Hissing Fauna comes a newfound desperation. As on past albums, a change occurs mid-tracklist – this time, it’s hard to miss as a fitful 12-minute manic-guitar loop, massaging bottled misery out with “”Ooh-ooh-oohs”” and keyboard UFO feedback – that reportedly marks Barnes’ transformation into glam-rock alter-ego George Fruit. But as much as he may try to pin Fauna as another concept album, there’s no avoiding the highly personal nature of these gut-stabs. “”Eva/ Sorry but you’ll never have me/ To me you’re just some faggy girl/ And I need a lover with soul power,”” he cries to the feedback on “”Buddy Ain’t No Kind of Rider,”” bleeding regret and rumored marital strayings. With therapy this electric, one can only hope his divorce drags on for a while longer.

    Of Montreal will perform live at Soma in San Diego on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

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