Artist: "Of Montreal"
Album: "Skeletal Lamping"
Genre: Indie Music
Review: Skeletal Lamping, Of Montreal's latest, launches into the same territory as their previous release, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, but takes it about ten steps further. This is one of the most unpredictable, insane, hectic, and creatively schizophrenic albums I've ever heard. Just when you think you've got a song pinned down, it will drastically change tempo and direction, completely distancing itself from what came before while still building off of it.
If you're more comfortable with the verse/chorus/bridge song form, then you probably won't know what to make of this, but if you're into more experimental music, this is a very rewarding album, particularly with multiple listens. The first time listening to it can be a little off-putting, just because it's going in a million different directions and it's hard for your brain to process everything. At first I thought it was a little disappointing, not quite stacking up to the quality of the previous three records. But after three or four listens, everything started to soak in and make some kind of sense, and I now think this might be my favorite Of Montreal album.
I don't know how Kevin Barnes writes this kind of music, but I'm damn glad he does, because I've never heard anything like it, but it pleases my ears like few other things ever have. The only downside I can think of to this chaotic style is that sometimes a song will veer into a really nice theme or tune, and instead of really lingering and exploring it for a while, Barnes is already off and gone, checking out the next plateau. So you have to enjoy the parts you really like while you can, as there's not a lot of repetition. Like it or hate it (and music as weird as this is bound to have plenty of haters), one thing you cannot accuse this album of being is boring.
Highlights on the album include "Wicked Wisdom" (in which Barnes's transsexual black alter-ego Georgie Fruit makes an appearance, informing us that he's "the motherfucking headliner, bitch, you don't even know it"), the deliciously thematic "An Eluardian Instance", "Triphallus, to Punctuate!" (which has the familiarity of an old friend), and the super-chaotic "Plastis Wafers", the longest song and backbone of the album, and the floaty ethereal bit in the middle where he references Orpheus is one of my favorite parts of the whole album (and as mentioned before, it's fleeting, as the song quickly moves away from that bit and forages into new territory). And yes, the song titles are as pretentious and meaningless as ever, but we can easily forgive that when the music is as good as this.
If you already like Of Montreal, I have no doubt that you will love this album, even if it doesn't reach out and grab you right away. Anything this complex is going to require time to fully appreciate, so give it a proper chance, and I'm betting you will eventually be very glad you did. If you thought Hissing Fauna was out there, you ain't heard nothing yet. If you're not already a fan, chances are this one won't win you over--you might be better off exploring one of their older releases, like Aldhils Arboretum or The Sunlandic Twins, and work up from there. But if you do give it a try and like it immediately, I have no doubt you will one day consider this one of the finest musical discoveries you've ever made, and you'll be pleased to discover the rest of their extensive, insane back catalog as well.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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