Monday, March 26, 2012

Of Montreal: Paralytic Stalks

"Too much information, verbal and sonic, is standard practice for Kevin Barnes, the songwriter and studio obsessive behind Of Montreal. His lyrics pile on the polysyllables and metaphors: 'Love is not a debtor’s prison, you don’t have to serve a sentence to pay back what you’ve been given/Now I live in fear of your schizophrenic genius, it’s a tempestuous despot that I can’t seem to propitiate,' he sings, to a not-quite-bolero lilt, in 'We Will Commit Wolf Murder' on Of Montreal’s new album, 'Paralytic Stalks.' His music is just as dense, a thicket of instruments and stylistic allusions, in long songs — nine of them on this 58-minute album — that might veer off on tangents at any moment. In 'Wintered Debts' whispery acoustic strumming morphs into dazed psychedelia, Queen-like vocal harmonies, a country shuffle and a minimalist haze of piano and voice; that’s before the orchestra arrives, quivering and hovering, only to suddenly splice into a postscript like a Beach Boys ballad. It’s all at the service of a mind awash in malaise and paranoia: romantic, socioeconomic, psychological, philosophical. ... But the music that surrounds him rebuts his misery; it’s full of unpredictable life, and it surrounds him with blithe la-la’s and instrumental counterpoint, like the warbling flutes of 'Dour Percentage,' which cheerfully echoes 1970s pop as Mr. Barnes sings, 'The speakers have blown, this planet is an orphanage.' ... With 'False Priest' in 2010, he tried professional studio recording and guest musicians. 'Paralytic Stalks' returns to his home studio in Athens, Ga., but not to low-fi solo recording; he uses string and horn arrangements that allow him to leap straight off the avant-garde deep end in one song, 'Exorcismic Breeding Knife'" (Jon Pareles, "New Music," New York Times, 2/13/12).

View catalog record here!