[26 June 2007]
Indie pop maverick and Of Montreal leader Kevin Barnes probably doesn’t intentionally suffer for his art, but, when he grapples with life’s obstacles to happiness, his art is really good. Resilience in the face of depression and rejection were the themes behind his band’s excellent 2007 full-length Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? The 21 minutes of leftovers from the recordings for that CD comprise the five tracks found on this new EP, Icons, Abstract Thee. The quick ‘n’ poppy opening tracks “Du Og Meg” and “Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da” are probably too bright and tangy to have made it into the slightly bitter stew that was Hissing Fauna, while “Miss Blonde Your Papa Is Failing”—with its accompaniment of picked acoustic guitar, spare piano notes, and tiny string pad swells—is more like a Paul McCartney side dish. “Derailments in a Place of Our Own” begins with a dramatic synth statement, but then quickly fades into an Elliot Smith-sounding throwaway. The concluding cut, called “No Conclusions”, is nearly ten minutes of epic Of Montrealness, melding together different ideas a la Brian Wilson and the “feels” he masterfully assembled into magic pop tunes. If you have an eccentric sweet tooth, you’ll be in hog heaven. For the rest of us, Icons, Abstract Thee still offers plenty of tasty victuals to enjoy.