Of Montreal : Paralytic Stalks
Of Montreal iaren't an easy band to categorise. The group that started as a psychedelic vaudeville pop experiment 16 years ago has evolved into something quite different, a musical hybrid written, composed and performed entirely by Kevin Barnes, with the help of ring-ins and session musicians. This has been a double-edged sword that hurts the music as often as it helps it – for every brilliant record such as the breakthrough Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer, Of Montreal can produce records that sound like they were made with more regard for Barne’s vision than the audience who will listen to it. This album, made in the wake of a terrible relationship breakdown, is firmly in the latter camp. Often described as the musical brain child of Barnes, Of Montreal is increasingly becoming the child he keeps in his basement and has his nasty way with.
It’s a habit of bad music writing for a critic to describe anything they don’t understand as music ‘on acid’, but it’s a fairly apt way to look at this record. Listening to it is an intense experience, disjointed and alienating, unremittingly dark at times but punctuated by moments of dreamy psychedelic pop and honky-tonk shuffles. It’s a mess, but a beautiful one, a playfully psychotic exploration of religion, the duality of the human race and one man’s descent into depression and musical onanism.
The rapid zig-zagging that the songs take are held together by the always cerebral and often brilliant lyrics that Barnes throws casually at the listener; 'Dose yourself into a coma over the bestiality of our race/Into some ancient reptilian form like an agnostic transubstantian/Don’t know what that is, use your imagination.'
Depending on your tastes, you may find this album – which draws inspiration from difficult classical composers as freely as it does nihilistic existentialism – to be an embarrassment of riches that grows with each new listen, or a pretentious piece of shit. In exploring the duality of human nature, Barnes has captured that bit of it, at least.
BY LIAM PIEPER
Best Track:We Will Commit Wolf Murder
If You Like These, You'll Like This: LSD, other recreational drugs
In A Word: Complicated