OF Montreal

Of Montreal

“Hissing Fauna…”

Grade: A

What Johnny Thinks:

Mere weeks after submitting lists of their favorite albums of the past year, music critics should already be scrambling to pencil in Of Montreal’s newest album in the top spot for 2007.

Singer/lyricist/eternal man-boy Kevin Barnes opted to record most of “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” without the rest of his Athens, Ga., collective, which might explain the strong focus on Barnes’ personal life instead of his usual quirky character studies.

With assistance from some truly saccharine synths and genuinely groovy bass-lines, he explores his Norwegian depression, his reasons for rebuffing a lovestruck club-rat and his realization that he probably shouldn’t hire someone to hit his ex-lover in the head.

Buried under all his new-found angst, Barnes still manages to poop out enough bouncy, whimsical, cheery indie pop melodies to melt any snowdrift.

Barnes has always had a knack for finding the secret sweet spot of a playful melody and morphing it into a psychedelic pop confection.

On the album’s opener, “Suffer for Fashion,” he outmaneuvers every dance anthem he’s ever penned, haphazardly piling hook upon hook it’s bursting at the seams with sugary-sweet energy.

“Hissing Fauna” doesn’t break much new ground in Barnes’ colorful career, but the infectious melodies he unearths here will stick around longer than mono.

Johnny Payne