Of Montreal were once the twee-est jamboree in Elephant 6's prized patch of retrophonic flower-children. 11 years and eight albums in, Kevin Barnes has shelved the old-timey imagery and archaic idioms, radically rewriting Of Montreal as tense electro-funk outfit rife with simmering sexual tension. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? is the band's landmark longplayer, a colossal epic in which Barnes ditches the fanciful and whimsical for the hysterical and confessional. Its centerpiece, the krautrock-ish 12-minute workout “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal,” finds him rambling in free-association, his ever-increasing agitation making it seem like so much psychotherapy. It's neurosis on the dancefloor, and Barnes dares not kill the groove.
Dave Longstreth had been making criminally-ignored, conceptually-amazing, continually-adventurous albums for years, but the Grizzly Bear-produced Rise Above was the one to, finally, put D-Lo and his Dirty Projectors on the map. Its calling card was a quirky conceptual bent: Longstreth deciding to “reimagine” Black Flag's 1981 punk benchmark Damaged as it existed in his memory. Which was, apparently, tangled up beyond recognition; the original four-to-the-floor screamers lost in an art-school cacophony of highlife guitar licks, modern-classical vocal cascades, and math-rock meters. An exuberant belter ever since his early days, Longstreth rises to the fore with his crazy croon, ably aided by his newfound guitar/vocal foil, Amber Coffman.