Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Album Review: Of Montreal's False Priest


False Priest, Of Montreal’s follow-up album to 2007’s Skeletal Lamping, is officially out today, although I’ve been voraciously listening to it since it appeared on NPR’s First Listen last week. I find this album to feel less light and flutteringly-chaotic than Skeletal Lamping, although it thankfully contains an acceptable amount of the clever lyrics, abstract instrumentation and danceable beats I’ve come to expect from Mr. Barnes.

The songs on False Priest deliver a tighter and cleaner version of pandemonium than I anticipated, and word on the street is that’s due to producer Jon Brion’s involvement (Kanye, Spoon, Rufus, etc). I’m certainly not disappointed by this. The juxtaposition of sounds I loved so much on Skeletal Lamping (because they soothed my A.D.D.) are still present, they’re just not as frequent or backed by a full a-day-in-the-life-esque orchestra.

Another unique addition to this album are the collaborations with Solange Knowles (“Sex Karma”) and Janelle Monae (“Enemy Gene”). Both females add a wonderful touch to their respective tracks without really leaving their mark. I felt they both fit nicely within the songs, serving more as another layer of instrumentation rather than a distracting force to Kevin’s vision. I was hoping for something a bit more badass from Solange though.

(Here's a picture of Solange wearing the fabulous shoes I posted about here. Add those shoes to the fact that she's Beyonce's sister + Jay-Z's sister-in-law + has collaborated with Of Montreal = I'm so jealous)

I was an early fan of “Coquet Coquette,” but some of my other favorite tracks include:

  • “I Feel Ya' Strutter” – a great opener. It’s upbeat and classic Of Montreal. I love it.
  • “Our Riotous Defects” – contains a superbly hilarious little monologue regarding the crazy girl he’s dating that makes me chuckle every time I hear she killed his betta fish: “My god, I should have realized on our second date when you dragged me into the bathroom at Tenika’s house and screamed at me for like 20 minutes because I contradicted you in front of your friends. I was like, oh. And then later that night at my apartment as punishment you killed my betta fish. Just threw it out the window.” Hahaha. As of right now, my favorite song on the album.
  • “Hydra Fancies” – ridiculously catchy, and definitely a more doo-wop feel with this track. I love the way the song feels at 1:12 and 2:17, when the sound progression drops for an instant and is restarted with an almost humorously distorted bass sound. It’s these little things that get me…
  • Directly following “Hydra Fancies” is “Like a Tourist,” which has an immediately more fierce and defined sound. This song definitely displays a lot more of the seemingly random song transitions I loved on Skeletal Lamping.
  • “Girl Named Hello” – definitely a driving beat with great lyrics: “If I treated someone else the way I treat myself, I’d be in jail.” An easy one to find yourself dancing too and singing along with on first listen.
  • I think “Around the Way” is the song I’d vote “most likely to be heard on Skeletal Lamping.” A larger sound with more layers of instrumentation and more dramatic phrasing; however, I found it to be one of the sharpest and angriest songs on the album too.
  • “You Do Mutiliate?” – Woah. Hey, Of Montreal, way to be deep and inspirational through a scary voice manipulator thingy. Some great points and interesting statements in this song, but I don’t think it’s for your Mom or some first-time Of Montreal listener. They’d both think you’re a little crazy for recommending it. I love it. Check it out and be prepared for such thought provoking statements like “Everybody’s searching for a cause, a reason to blow themselves up.” “When will certain people realize an afterlife is nothing to live for, nothing to die for, nothing to fight for?” “If you think God is more important than your neighbor, you’re capable of terrible evil.”

I love this album. I love Polyvinyl. I love Of Montreal. I love Kevin Barnes. I LOVE that I’m seeing Of Montreal on September 25 at the Aragon. I loved seeing them at Lollapalooza in 2009. I love Skeletal Lamping. And Hissing Fauna. And Sunlandic Twins. …just so you know.

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