"Is it a solar fever?"
I had to make probably one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make last night. Okay, it wasn't really life or death, but choosing whether or not to go and see Sparklehorse (for free, I might add) was a real toughie.
I chose not to go. My reasons for this were purely fiscal. I'm skint and while I wouldn't have paid anything for the ticket, there's no such thing as a free gig. You have to pay for beer, cigarettes, taxis etc. and it was money that I just don't have. So I decided to go to the pub with my work colleagues and get drunk for free (such generous, altruistic people they are).
I'm kind of gutted today that I missed the opportunity to see the author of one of my favourite albums of the 90s (Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot) play songs from that album and his other excellent records in the flesh and in the swish surroundings of Manchester's own Royal Northern College Of Music. The new record, Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain isn't their best. The songs are as strong as ever but Danger Mouse's production dulls the rougher, fuzzier edges of their sound that made previous albums such brilliantly unsettling listening experiences.
This doesn't mean that a surfeit of new songs would have put me off the gig, as I know that even if they didn't do many more of my favourites, at least 'Rainmaker' was in the set. I don't even want to know if they did 'Cow' or 'Spirit Ditch' to be honest. Anyway, I just had to write something about this, if only to put any regret, that's led to me slapping my own forehead at intervals through out the day, to bed. Here's a little something off the new record.
Bands must get pissed off when their new album leaks early, but with Of Montreal's latest, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, early seems like a bit of an understatement. The album has been around for about a month now, but it's not even out until early next year. Whether the leak was unintentional or if it was done to generate buzz, it matters not as the word is out; Hissing Fauna is the first great album of 2007.
A giddy, thrilling psychedelic disco-pop opus, Hissing Fauna... has nary a bad moment and certainly no duff tunes. From the pressure-drop lo-slung bassfest of 'Gronlandic Edit', or the operatic pop of the opener, 'Suffer For Fashion' through to the manic, high-tension new wave dance of 'She's A Rejector' and the disjointed, but intriguingly so 'Bunny Ain't No Kind Of Rider', the album is chock-full of addictive songs that practically urge you to hit repeat.
Although this is possibly Of Montreal's most accessible release to date, it's still shot through with the Elephant 6 collective's sense of adventure. No more so than on the stunning album centrepiece, 'The Past Is A Grotesque Animal'; a highly impressive, head-spinning twelve minute goth-disco epic that is probably the most intensely dramatic things I've heard in a while. Steve Barnes fills the song with evocative lyrics about not letting past relationships inform your present ones (I think?), peaking at around the five minute mark with Barnes near-screaming "Let's just have some fun/Let's tear this shit apart/Let's tear the fucking house apart/Let's tear our fucking bodies apart/Let's just have some fun" in that manner where he manages to sound both unhinged and disinterested. It's sure to be one of the musical moments of next year.
So while I don't condone illegal downloading in any way, you need to hear this awe-inspiring, dizzying record as soon as possible. In the meantime, here's a little taster.
I'm off to Sheffield tomorrow to see King Creosote and Jeremy Warmsley, but I'll be back on Monday with the singles reviews and there's plenty of other good stuff to come through the week in the form of a new mixtape and my thoughts on such records as LCD Soundsystem's 45 workout mix for Nike, The Shins' newie, Wincing The Night Away and Pavement's special edition of Wowee Zowee among others no doubt.