BSE (TW) “The Past is a Grotesque Animal”
posted by June 25 at 15:37 PMon
So, this should have gone up Friday, I guess, but I was busy recapping Thursday night’s Glass Candy show at the Comet, among other things. So, with no further ado, the Best Song Ever (Last Week) is…
“The Past is a Grotesque Animal” by Of Montreal
The song is nearly 12 minutes long, but it flies by—it tricks the time-keeping part of the mind, which is only the first or last reason it’s a great song. “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” is the hypnotic centerpiece of the great Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer>, a drawn-out, eventually frantic unravelling of the album’s autobiographical character(s) (“let’s have some fun/let’s tear the shit apart/let’s tear the fucking house apart/let’s tear our fucking bodies apart”). But beyond it’s episodic significance, it’s an examination of futility, despair, and nostalgia in the face of mortality (“I find myself searching for old selves/while speeding forward through the plate glass of maturing cells”). The past is a monster, a bitter reminder of things that could’ve been (“things could be different, but they’re not”) as well as things that were, both equally taunting and impossible, and as time progresses, it only gets larger and more grotesque (“and in its eyes you see/how completely wrong you can be”).
If it’s lyrically morbid, it’s at least a little musically buoyant. The track builds over metronomic kick drum, flanged bass, and propulsive 16th note guitar picking; keyboard filter sweeps, ambient noises, and muffled growls circle around and descend. At 4:19, background “Oooh oooh ooh”s float up out of nowhere and then repeat for the rest of the track. Over all this, Kevin Barnes sings and whines and then barks. He references Georges Bataille. He sings about failed romance as existential crisis. When the track finally exhausts itself and sputters out at 11:45, it’s a profound moment of catharsis.