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January 30, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-30

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The Michigan Daily - michigandJaily.com

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - 5

A mix of '50s horror flicks and French Baroque with a flair for the dramatic - Of Montreal just can't go wrong.

Exploring darker terrory

Daily Arts Writer
If 2005's The Sunlandic Twins was Of Mon-
treal's Kid A, then 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are
You the Destroyer? is their
Amnesiac - more of the
same, but deeper, darker
and slightly weirder. And Of Montreal
like its Radiohead counter-
part, this successor slightly Hissing Fauna,
pales in comparison. Are You the
The strength of Of Mon- Destroyer?
treal's frontman, Kevin Polyvinyl
Barnes, has always been
his melodic prowess, and nowhere is this more
evident than on The Sunlandic Twins. In spite
of its cold, calculated synth trappings, Twins
was a triumphant joy. Hissing Fauna shares
much of the same energy, but without as much
emphasis on those powerful hooks.
Take Fauna's lead track, "Suffer for Fash-
ion," as a case in point: After only a gentle pluck
of strings and a child's voice, the song bursts

with a crescendo of churning bass and Barnes'
laser-like voice. "Fashion" seizes your attention
just as readily as Twins opener "Requiem For
O.M.M.2," but somehow it doesn't land quite as
effectively - something accessible is missing.
The album does successfully wade into more
personal waters, with Barnes singing of des-
peration and uncertainty with an uncharac-
teristic urgency. His vocals soar above a bed of
near-cacophonous instrumental experimenta-
tion, with the music urging him into a personal
For a band that once relied on tales of fan-
tastic settings and characters, this newfound
lyrical depth is a major achievement. Of Mon-
treal takes an introspective approach, marking
Barnes's first attempt at an autobiographical
album. Though the result is often stranger than
their fictional worlds, the band's further explo-
rations into electronics have begun to suit their
off-kilter sound.
In some of Hissing Fauna's darker, more
contemplative moments ("Cato as a Pun"), the
synths lend a broodingfeel, while at other times

("Faberge Falls for Shuggie"), Barnes channels
Prince with a swagger and strut.
The album's undisputed centerpiece, "The
Past is a Grotesque Animal," is the indie-pop
answer to "White Light/White Heat," and a
testament to just how far the band has come
from their days as a factory of Beatlesque
whimsy. The 12-minute opus is not your typical
multi-movement epic, as it sits on the same four
chords for the song's duration and relies more
on tension and build-up than on melodic varia-
tion. Seething with acerbic lines - "I guess we
weren't made for this world / but I wouldn't
really want to meet someone who was" and
"sometimes I wonder if you're mythologiz-
ing me like I do you" - "Grotesque Animal"
is something of a hallmark for Hissing Fauna,
allowing the band to extend its bounds themat-
ically and structurally instead of just melodi-
HissingFauna shows the growth of a dynam-
ically evolving band, and its success is only
diminished in comparison to the achievements
of the album that preceded it.

Reduce, reuse,
I f you've ever wondered what back potential.
it means to be a superstar, While Ms. Spears did make
just check out the inside of time for a visit to her Louisiana
the Wonderland Center, the rehab home after the death of an aunt,
clinic Lindsey Lohan checked her publicity campaign has thus
herself into recently after alleged far lagged behind Fed-Ex, whose
pleas from her family and friends commercial for Nationwide insur-
(hitting the clubs less than 24 ance company has been leaked to
hours after an appendectomy the Internet.
must have set off some The commercial, set
alarms). to air during the Super-
Wonderland certain- bowl, unfortunately indi-
ly lives up to its name. cates that Federline has
Beauty salon, spa treat- both the sense of humor
ments, swimming pool, to laugh at himself and
sauna, palm trees - the shrewdness to make
sounds more like vaca- money off it. Britney fans
tion than rehab, but of everywhere are weeping,
course Lindsey can't especially after numer-
be brought down to the BERNIE ous tabloids have released
local AA in the YMCA NGUYEN cover headlines that detail
gymnasium. We have a begging Federline plead-
serious doubts that she's sitting ing with Britney to go to rehab.
around telling people her name is That's one custody battle we're
Lindsey, and that she has a prob- looking forward to, especially if
lem. Spears stubbornly continues her
Actually, according to various rebound march through Federline
reports, Lindsey isn't doing much look-alikes.
of anything in the Wonderland This week's special? Model/
Center, despite the upward of actor (allegedly ... we never heard
$3,000 a day she's paying to stay of him before) Isaac Cohen, whose
there. career has probably taken an infa-
Photographers have snapped mous jump from his recent dive
her out and about, shopping at into the Spears pool. Plus, he gets
Dior one day and running around free stuff - Cohen was seen walk-
Hollywood the next. Her current ing out of the Ed Hardy boutique
project, "I Know Who Killed Me," in Hollywood with over half a
was postponed due to her stint in dozen bags of loot dangling over
rehab, although it's reportedly set his arms.
to start filming again.
We know, Lindsey. We feel your
pain. It must be so hard to stay in
a place where they have people to Lohans appendix
wait on you hand and foot, and
probably a direct line to Rachel is already gone.
Zoe. You know, just so you can
look good for all the hotties that Her livers next.
must be in there, recovering from
Speaking of recovery, coun-
try singer Keith Urban is out of Even when it comes to shop-
rehab, which he has been attend- ping, we guess Britney can't get
ing for the past few months. Vari- rid of her trailer-park, trucker-hat
ous sources cite him as attributing tendencies.
much of his success in overcom- And in case you're extremely
ing addiction to the support of his worried that everyone in Holly-
loving wife and the peaceful sur- wood is going down, down, down,
roundings at the Betty Ford Clinic never fear. Sunday's SAG awards
in California. - also known as "We're famous
See, Lindsey? This is how peo- so let's congratulate ourselves"
ple get better. They stay where - honored the up-and-comers:
they pay and they don't play. Jennifer Hudson tok home best
Especially with Paris Hilton, supporting actress for her role in
some of whose possessions (seized "Dreamgirls," "Little Miss Sun-
after she failed to pay the bill for shine" won for best ensemble (the
the storage unit where they were SAG equivalent of the Oscers' best
kept) surfaced on the Internet, picture) and America Feiera took
including pictures of her romping home an award for her work on
around with "Girls Gone Wild" TV's "Ugly Betty."
creator Joe Francis, a list of things So Hollywood isn't all bad. At
to do that includes "talk to some- least we still have the privileged
one if I feel like throwing up" few who remember DARE, and
and a photo of Cisco Adler, better have the ability to just say no. But
known as Mischa Barton's man between the homophobic Isaiah
candy. Did we mention he's com- Washingtons, robotic Victoria
pletely naked? And sporting a pair Beckhams and attention-hogging
of balls so large even Shaq couldn't Paris Hiltons of the world, those
palm them. That's hot, Paris. Well are a precious few indeed.
Speaking of hot - or maybe not - Nguyen remembers all
- Britney Spears has managed to about DARE, E-mail her at
do nothing to increase her come- bangyen@umich.edu

Sturns toward pop

DailyArts Writer
After 13 years, San Francisco's
indie noise-pop darlings Deer-
hoof have a history of crafting
albums that
teeter between
the irresistibly
catchy and the Deerhoof
ly challenging. Friend
This time, the Opportunity
band has tilted Kill Rock Stars
the scale toward
the pop side of things. But before
the tried-and-true fans throw on
their copies of 2002's Reveille and
promptly adjust their Facebook
profiles from "Deerhoof" to "Early
Deerhoof," understand this: While
Friend Opportunity is undeniably a
pop record, it is certainly not with-
out its share of left turns.
These turns, however, are hid-
den within a more straightforward
framework. Wasting no time, Deer-
hoof blasts off into the indie pop
stratosphere with "The Perfect
Me." While the album opener sees
explosive electric guitars doing
battle with church organs and per-
cussive taps, Satomi Matsuzaki's
understated, preschool child vocal
makes for a comforting (albeit
familiar) contrast. When Matsuzaki
declares, "Meet me, meet me, meet
the perfect me," what she's really
saying is this: Deerhoof is doing pop
and doing it better than most.
Yet the question remains - is

Friend Opportunity really Deer-
hoof's "perfect" incarnation? The
ultra-infectious "+81" provides a
compelling argument. Emerging
from a parade of trumpet arpeggios,
the track kicks into a loose, rocka-
billy blues progression. Matsuzaki,
doing her best impersonation of a
drowsy pixie, sings of a "building,
building from the side to side of
town." But just as the hip-shaking
begins, the chorus hits harder than
expected. Although "Choo, ch-ch-
choo! Beep Beep!" aren't the kind
of lyrics you'd hear on everyday
Top 40 radio, the melody is never-
theless contagious.
In fact, tracks like "+81" bear a
striking similarity to the long lost
video-game pop of Playstation's
"Um Jammer Lammy" - the rela-
tively obscure and infinitely more
endearing '99 forefather of "Gui-
tar Hero." What works best in the
bizarre, cutesy music of "Um Jam-
mer Lammy" is its ceaseless varia-
tion within the pop framework,
and this kind of pop variety works
just as well in Friend Opportunity.
Deerhoof have the unique abil-
ity to take a seemingly unsingable
melody and weave it within a series
of increasingly complex passages.
Before you know it, the melody is
not only familiar but addictive.
It's not just the complexity of
Deerhoof's music that makesFriend
Opportunity a great pop record -
it's the way they transition between
the different sections so effort-
lessly. That's not to say Deerhoof is

Deerhoof just oozes that good West Coast feeling.

making it easy on themselves.
"The Galxast" begins with timid
acoustic guitar plucks in the vein of
a sleepy campfire sing-a-long. Sud-
denly, a supernova guitar explosion
San Fran favorites
bring new focus to
their sound
(provided by John Dietrich) shakes
the campgrounds. The listener
awakens to gleaming electric guitar
lines, driving bass and Matsuzaki's
gentle voice as she sings of "Mer-
cury" and "melody." It's a telling
thematic concept - Deerhoof seem
to have mastered the fusion of the
otherworldly with straightforward
While there are many unique

moments within the record - the
Balinese Gamelan and Grandaddy
imitations on "Cast Off Crown,"
the stop-start story of man's best
friend in "Ridz Are So Small" and
the nod to My Bloody Valentine
on "Matchbook Seeks Maniac"
- it'd be hard to overlook the final
and most stubbornly inconsistent
track, "Look Away." Clocking in at
nearly 12 minutes, the song is an
odd finale to a relatively concise,
10 track pop album. While it may
have worked for Weezer (akin to
the epic "Only In Dreams" on the
Blue Album) it doesn't quite work
as well here.
It'd be easy to mistake "Look
Away" as Deerhoof's apology to
their die-hard fans. But in reality,
it's the sound of the band having a
whole lot of fun and getting just a
bit carried away. As Friend Oppor-
tunity's near-perfect pop suggests,
however, no apology is needed at

F ii

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