Under Review: of Montreal – False Priest

Every trip (and I do mean trip) into the mind of Kevin Barnes is bound to be a fascinating one.  Not that every album from of Montreal is worth holding on to, but boundless creativity that Barnes brings has made each of his records intriguing regardless.  The last outing from of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping, found Barnes embracing his purple side, with fractured pop gems getting lost in a sea of explicit come-ons and occasionally brilliant melodies.  False Priest is only slightly shorter than Skeletal Lamping, though the album’s more focused direction and accessible song structures make it a more palatable listen.  Skeletal Lamping’s constant shifts are more refined here, with entire songs rather than segments standing out.  The chiming “Godly Intersex” and the rocking “Coquet Coquette” are early highlights, and suggest a more controlled freak serving as Barnes’ muse.

A few like-minded ladies make appearances on False Priest, with Janelle Monáe providing some counterpoint coos on “Our Riotous Defects” and “Enemy Gene,” and Solange Knowles trading lines on “Sex Karma.”  The pair of soul songstresses raises an existential question, not just about False Priest, but of Montreal as a whole: both Monáe and Solange have shown that they can easily cross between R&B and indie pop circles, though Barnes himself remains locked in a self-constructed bubble.  Whether or not a commercial breakthrough is on his mind, there’s something that continues to keep of Montreal from becoming anything more than an oddball’s recording project.  It could be Barnes’ resistance to settle on a manageable amount of ideas per song, or even something as simple as titling a tune with one of its lyrics (though, to be fair, he is getting better at this), but False Priest stands to be nothing more than another fair of Montreal album.  For most, that’s more than enough.  Given Barnes’ love of musical changes, though, it’s hard not to think he’s playing it a little too safe.

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~ by E. on September 15, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: of Montreal – False Priest”

  1. It’s too bad Janelle didn’t sing along last night. i thought the new material held up nicely though. After seeing it performed with gyrating, spandex dancers, i will never listen to it in quite the same way.

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