For a brief moment in the late 2000s, I was a big of Montreal fan. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? was getting rave reviews and I wanted to dig more into their back catalogue. I ended up falling hard for their sixth album Satanic Panic in the Attic, especially ‘Disconnect the Dots’, which is one of the songs of theirs I still play regularly. I also listened to a lot of Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies and The Gay Parade.
For me, Satanic Panic in the Attic and Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? still sit as the best work that frontman Kevin Barnes has done, later albums never reaching their respective heights… and in the end putting me off of their earlier work. Listening to Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? again after a number of years just served to remind me just how much I liked their music when they were doing what they do best: great psychedelic pop.
At the centre of the album is ‘The Past Is a Grotesque Animal’, a twelve minute turning point that is just one of brilliant tracks that works out of context but is so much better when listening to it with the rest of the album. It’s the point where the album morphs from the more psychedelic first half to a second half that is closer to glam.
Other tracks like ‘Gronlandic Edit’ and ‘She’s A Rejector’ are stand-outs in the different halves of the album, both sounding very much like the then modern take on genres from the 1960s and 1970s. There is a problematic element to the second half of the album, namely the alter-ego adopted by singer Kevin Barnes… but to be honest I never listened to this album thinking about this persona he wanted to create so it never mattered much out of the live performances.
It’s great to hear of Montreal again and it just shows how many albums and artists we end up leaving behind as we take musical detours in our lives. Definitely an album that has stood up well (persona aside) to the test of time and maturity.