Of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping
Kevin Barnes, the prodigal ringleader behind the maddeningly prolific Athens, Georgia outfit Of Montreal, took the notion of suffering for one’s art to a whole new level with the 2007 release of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? The painfully confessional outpourings of Barnes’s lyrics mashed with the ecstatic, hyper-pop and post-punk leaning Fauna made for a disconcertingly euphoric journey, one that helped Fauna make nearly every critic’s year-end list.
Now, only a year later, Barnes and co. are back with Skeletal Lamping. And if Fauna was Barnes’s psychotherapy session on acid, Skeletal Lamping is a pornographic roller-coaster of sexual encounters washed down with a tumbler of ecstasy-tinged love potion and Barnes’s wicked sense of humor.
Bombastic in nature, Lamping’s fifteen sprawling tracks transition from neurotic disco anthems to frenzied, manic pop outbursts spiked with acid-rock, all without fail. Album opener “Nonpareil of Favor” sets spastic programmed beats and smatterings of harpsichord against Barnes’s cathedral-sized vocal exercises, while “For Our Elegant Caste” offers up the raunchy sentiment, “we can do it soft-core if you want, but you should know I take it both ways” over bursts of hand drums and operatic harmonies.
Perhaps the most impressive shape-shifter of the bunch is the seven-minute plus epic “Plastic Wafers,” which crosses the bridge from new wave to chamber pop only to end up as the soundtrack to your next alcohol-fueled three-night bender at four in the morning.
By Bruce Scott