I’m really digging the broader band approach from Of Montreal, in comparison to some of the electronically driven stuff I feel like Kevin Barnes was working on in his own bedroom. This brand new track will come on a 7″ that arrives with the remastered Satanic Panic in the Attic LP, which hits on Record Store Day. And just in case you forgot, that’s my favorite OM record, so it only seems fitting that they offer up this track. If this song is any indicator, it’s clear that the band is back on the up and up, perhaps bringing them back into the realm of my favorite bands.
Okay, so Of Montreal puts out tunes almost every year, so why is this so exciting? Well, for me, this single seems to exemplify the sound from the group that I first fell in love with when I jammed to Satanic Panic in the Attic; it’s not all bleeps and bloops, choosing to focus on more traditional guitar based melodies. Still, it’s every bit a Kevin Barnes sound, which never ceases to impress me; I really like the vocal tone switch around the 2:15 minute mark. The new record is titled lousy with sylvianbriar, and it’ll see a release from Polyvinyl Records on October 8th. Hope it all sounds this great.
Of Montreal have been purveyors of cool for quite some time now, and they are a group, or a man, continuing to push the boundaries of pop music. Here, Kevin Barnes, does his best to deconstruct pop structure in order to make Skeletal Lamping one of the more interesting listens of the year.
Let’s rid ourselves of the main flaw that is present on this album, and in fact, I’m quite disappointed with the lyrical output. Much has been made of Barnes’ alter-ego, a super-sexed black transsexual, but the presence of that person destroys a lot of the album’s credibility. Lyrically, this album pushes the limits of acceptance beyond it’s barrier, and although I’m sure various people’s will claim that “we can do it softcore, if you want,” but that doesn’t make the sexual innuendo worthy of our attention. Typically, Of Montreal albums maintain credible lyrics, in some manner, and sure, they exist here and there, but most will be turned off by the ridiculousness present.
Now, the band has continuously been moving towards an electronic sound since Satanic Panic in the Attic, and this album is what one can assume is the last step. For the most part, it’s difficult to find where full-band participation might come into play, as the majority of the skeletal instrumentation is electronic. However, the group, as per usual, splices their elements carefully throughout the backbone of electronic sounds. One of the highlights might be the horns on “An Eluardian Instance,” where they blast in with perfect accompaniment.
One of the most spectacular aspects of this album, based merely on Barnes’ attempt to tear down the walls of modern pop, is that listening to the entire thing is like going on a scavenger hunt for perfect pop gems. Harmonies abound, hopping in and out of the core of each song, hiding around the corners of our hearts. You must carefully follow through each song in order to get the most out of this album. It’s a daunting task.
Therein lies the problem most listeners will encounter. Can you stomach the hours of careful listening to find one of the most gratifying listening experiences around? It’s a hard choice for most, and one that most people will not be able to make until several listens of the album, and by that point it’s too late, you’ve already put it aside for the rest of the year. But, if you hold on for a couple more listens, you will be making some of the stranger mix tapes among your groups of friends, based solely on the fact that you used clips from the 47th second on when you decided to include “Death is Not a Parallel Move” on your year end mix.
It’s not an easy listen by any means, but weeks into your listening experience you will find that there are more and more elements you missed, ultimately asking you to return again and again to one of the more interesting listens of the year.