Indie-Pop Grandeur, Grotesque, and a Bit too Sexxeee


Kevin Barnes’s whimsy leaves him vulnerable to criticism. As on 2005’s indie-pop breakthrough The Sunlandic Twins, he leads the way as Of Montreal drifts a bit into La-La Land right after the album reaches its golden mean. While last time it was psychedelic soundscapes and such, the collective from Athens, Georgia this time fills the latter part of Hissing Fauna with some goofy SEXXEEE tracks. It’s pretty much all good, but you can see how the guy’s still leaving himself open to sucker-punches by haters.

Given the emotional heft of the mini-song cycle that starts this album, though, Barnes maybe didn’t have much of a choice but to stretch out; if you want to do Pet Sounds, you can’t really pack it all into the first seven tracks alone. Regardless, Fauna‘s first half is cosmic pop turmoil of the highest degree, as only a master songwriter could create. Though culminating in the naked 12-minute confessional track “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal,” it actually hits its emotional apex on the track before, “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger,” wherein resonant disco signifiers seem to reach across time in order to speak to our own experiences of attachment and loss.