Sunday, January 28, 2007

We Want Our Film To Be Beautiful, Not Realistic

Ok. I'll Bite. We are a blog. Of Montreal is currently the most blogged band, generating a healthy dose of that blog buzz that makes all these bands you've never heard of before (and in many cases, since) the it thing, at least on the internet.

When I first started hearing said buzz about Of Montreal, I naturally assumed that they were just another of those 15-member indie Canadian bands that are regularly swirling in the self-feeding hype of the fan boy blogosphere. In my mind, the small frenzy just reeked of Broken Social Scene, which I actually very much enjoy, but almost never listen to, unless I am reminded to do so by someone like Chromewaves or some other trusted hub on the music blogwheel. The arrival at this assumption was enough for me to decide to wait until I heard something a little more noteworthy, like back when Arcade Fire came out of nowhere and had my idols U2 and Bowie falling all over themselves to be associated therewith. That buzzed reached a fortissimo crescendo before I checked in and realized that, yeah, I should Believe The Hype.

We're still a little early in the Of Montreal hype period, but the endorsement of TTT's only regular comment poster (where are you people? I know you're out there), DJ Cayenne, was enough to give me reason to look further into it. Of Montreal's new record, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? was released last week, after streaming for a period of time for free on the internet. And you know what? It's pretty damn good.

Now, I arrive at this conclusion, not after one or even two listens. This record is the epitome of a "grower." You know, one of those records that sounds slightly foreign at first listen, maybe even a little off-putting, but one that, through repeated listenings, causes your neurological pathways somehow to be altered just enough for you to "get it." So, after multiple listenings to this oddly titled little record, I not only "get it," I in fact dig it. Add to that epiphany the realization that these aren't a bunch of indie Canucks (not that's there's anything wrong with that) but a home-grown band based right here in Georgia, over in Athens, The Home of Many Things That Are Cool.

Ok. So I dig in a little more and learn that this new record is something of a departure for Of Montreal, which, as associates of the Athens collective Elephant 6, had purportedly been, until Hissing Fauna, sort of your garden variety indie band. I learn that, on this record, they somewhat unexpectedly transform themselves into veritable gods of new wave funkaliciousness (sp?) that totally rocks the house. And guess what? It does.

Hissing Fauna almost reads like a concept album, starting out as a really funky indie record -- like a dance version of The New Pornographers, with a fun new wave vibe. This progresses along satisfyingly enough until the record's centerpiece, "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal," a hysterically (and I don't mean that in the "humorous" sense) dark drone in which our protagonist angrily vents for nearly twelve minutes to an ex-lover who has obviously ripped his heart out, possibly worse.

The second half of the album sounds like sexual rebound music, perhaps unhealthy for our hero, but damn funky -- in a somewhat nerdy, white boy kind of way -- for the rest of us. It's music that's bound to sound good coming out of a convertable in the summer time, even though we're heading into the worst of winter. In way, that's kind of the point, it seems to me.

Check out this example of the album's pure funk, evocative of none other than The Purple One himself, in "Laberynthian Pomp." Just keep in mind that there's a lot of angst under the surface of these good times. This is a record that will fit nicely on your shelf between LCD Soundsystem and The Postal Service. Also, don't miss the album's great closer, "We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling."