Album review: False Priest rings true for of Montreal
Of Montreal’s tenth album, False Priest, rattles with dark energy that shivers from fatalistic undertones reminiscent of Bowie at his oddest and perhaps even a touch of the Cure. Over the course of its past musical output, Of Montreal has evolved an intricately layered sound. False Priest presents a fleeter production with some harder edges, but retains the familiar mixture of upbeat melancholia.
Helmed by provocateur extraordinaire Kevin Barnes, the old pros have infused their typically dense sound with a decidedly strange sci-fi-like, post-apocalyptic thematic landscape. Yet even when Barnes’ lyrics evoke feelings of sadness and despair, you can’t help but get pulled into a joyful state by the irresistible, synthy dance beats. The combo of “Sex Karma” and “Girl Named Hello” is a particularly seductive pairing. As with past outings, the band’s music is sexy in surprising ways. Songs such as “Like A Tourist,” which discuss both “unicorns eating baby meat” and “female erection” in almost the same breath, seem like a discordant impossibility, but Barnes makes it work by wrapping it all in a beautiful melody. For all their narrative complexity a number of the tracks include refrains you can slip into easily for a spirited sing-along. Other highlights include a couple of nicely utilized guest turns by Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles.
Even the quieter moments leave you with a number of lyrical and sonic strands to untangle. At the same time, certain stretches of the album produce a sort of restlessness leaving one yearning for the more riotous highs of early stunners “I Feel Ya’ Strutter” or “Godly Intersex.”
The key for Barnes and company seems to be striking the right balance between the diverse array of musical elements and the rambling stream-of-consciousness qualities of Barnes’ lyrics. A couple of the later numbers sink a little beneath the press of collected emotional weight, but remain compelling nonetheless. False Priest represents yet another leg on the pleasantly disorienting journey so lovingly proffered by of Montreal.
Of Montreal performs at the Pageant on October 21, 2010. Janelle Monáe opens.
of Montreal – “Coquet Coquette”