In 2007, of Montreal released the psychedelic pop album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? to critical acclaim for its intricate layers that hid melodies in unexpected corners. This makes album session outtake “Miss Blonde, Your Papa Is Failing” a surprise with its comparably stripped-back approach. Unlike the Georgie Fruit character who dictated the second-half of the album and Skeletal Lamping, the lyrics represent Kevin Barnes at his most earnest; he openly apologizes to his two-year-old daughter for separating with her mother, and thus also becomes agonizingly honest with the listener.
“Miss Blonde, Your Papa Is Failing” is painful to listen to. So painful that it is the type of song that should only be heard in private through earphones in bed, head under the covers. Repeated listens gradually peel off layers unnoticeable at first; there are actually several vocal and guitar layers, as well as synths, piano and a drum machine in the chorus. The arrangement conjures up an intense sadness, and every note of each instrument feels like a therapeutic release of emotion.
sweet friend, was i born to give you a name and then be erased, all because i couldn’t keep it together
Keven Barnes plays every instrument on this multi-latered track, which makes every word deliberated, and thus even more personal and heartbreaking. The final line is a shattered plea: “Let’s stay together“, which plays for an extended note. That is until the guitar breakdown that truly does feel like a breakdown, but a controlled breakdown with lullaby qualities that reflect the aspiration of the lyrics. In the end, the arrangement and fragile lyrics place a solemn image in the listener’s head: Kevin Barnes, playing sad acoustic guitar, alone.