Sunday, October 26, 2008

of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

Polyvinyl Records
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When did Of Montreal get so raunchy?

I know that Kevin Barnes & Co have always done their thing with a certain sexual flair. Songs about cunnilingus, Barnes performing a set in the nude, I guess Skeletal Lamping was just the next logical step. Naughtier than cheesy French electrohouse, Skeletal Lamping is an hour of pop-but-not contradiction. The tunes are catchy and infectious, par for the course on any release by these Athenians, but you're not going to hear "For Our Elegant Caste" on an Outback commercial anytime soon. It's still a lot of fun though, at least for the most part.

The music works for the same reasons that it doesn't. It's just so god damn over-the-top. Sometimes it's charming: the whimsical harpsichord of opener "Nonpareil of Favor" and its insistent four on the floor and sudden tempo shifts sound like the most fun Of Montreal have ever had in their long, storied indie career. Sometimes it's a bit disappointing: "Death Is Not A Parallel Move" is listless and lethargic, never really going anywhere. And in the case of "Plastis Wafers", it's a bit of both. The ambient, jungle funkiness of its extended coda conjures up illusions of Animal Collective covering the intro to "Sympathy For The Devil", and I'm still not quite sure where I stand on that.

A little heavy-handed on the "guilty" and a bit skimpy on the "pleasure", Of Montreal are not playing their "A" game here. But whenever you tire of the Gay Parade, need a break from those incessant Sunlandic Twins, or get scared of the dark and mysterious Hissing Fauna, Skeletal Lamping has just enough to shimmer to warrant a listen, or maybe seven.

Key Tracks:
Women's Studies Victims
Nonpareil of Favor
Triphallus, to Punctuate!

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