Monday, October 20, 2008

Record Review: Of Montreal- Skeletal Lamping

Love it or hate it, Of Montreal’s ninth album is a mysterious voyage.

Rating: 4.5/5

I feel like this review should start with a disclaimer, so here it is: this is a record made by Kevin Barnes for Kevin Barnes and anyone else who wants to join in on his sexploites. If you feel you can’t commit to a universe where freaking out on mountain goats, doing it softcore (or both ways), and ejaculating until it’s no longer fun are common practice, you may want to get out while you can. If, on the other hand, the concept of an album composed almost entirely of one to two minute, sexually ambiguous and sometimes awkwardly direct song snippets does not terrify you, you're free to board the craziest party boat since Onterio Smith introduced the world to the Whizzinator.

Skeletal Lamping is not going to be an album that is universally accepted, but it may wind up being a landmark moment in pop music ten years down the road. Conversely, it could be left on the side of said road to collect dust, a forgotten showcase of one man’s fragile psyche and his ill-advised expedition to cleanse himself.

That’s what Skeletal Lamping is, and why its title is one of the best in recent memory. Lamping is the cruel hunting practice of setting up a lantern in the middle of the night and waiting for animals to flock to it, setting up an inevitable slaughter. On the ninth Of Montreal album (though essentially the fourth Kevin Barnes solo album, as he has recorded each one since 2004’s Satanic Panic In The Attic by himself), Barnes attempts to use the same practice within himself, to cleanse his own personal demons.

Coming off the heals of last year’s painfully honest Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, it comes as no surprise why Barnes would want to do this. But no one could have predicted how sexual this thing could have turned out. Without further ado, ten favorite lines from the album (and debate on this subject is both necessary and welcome):

10. I took her standing in the kitchen, ass against the sink.

9. You’re the only one with whom I would roleplay Oedipus Rex (Gasda).

8. I’m so sick of sucking the dick of this cruel, cruel city.

7. Just to look at her is God… can’t you see it baby?

6. Here’s the kind of guy that would leave you in a k-hole to go play Halo in the other room.

5. You know I would have given it up to almost anybody who had a little bit of money and was sweet to me.

4. When the hope of another wet nightmare is all we have to live for.

3. I want to make you cum two-hundred times a day.

2. I asked your friend if you were available/ She answered no but yes, uh well, uh well yes and no.

1. I want to hurt you bad/ Make you paranoid/ and say the sweetest things.

The last line comes from “Gallery Piece”, a thoroughly disturbing piece of perpetual contrasts that divide the psyche of Barnes from the sweet to the violent, from his external nature to his sexual urges. Like many Of Montreal songs, it sets an uplifting, funky groove over deceptively morbid lyrical undertones.

“Touched Something’s Hollow” is the purest, most honest moment on the album. Barnes asks, “Why am I so damaged girl? Why am I such poison girl? I don’t know how long I can go on, if it’s gonna be like this forever.” This lasts all of two unnervingly straightforward minutes, before blasting into the trumpets of album highlight “An Eluardian Instance”, recounting how Barnes met his wife.

Yeah, there’s a black she-male and a fun moment where Barnes admits he has no clue what he’s talking about, and dozens of other things I haven’t mentioned and probably should have, including the last thirty seconds of “St. Exquisite’s Confessions” and frontrunner for best Of Montreal song title ever, “Triphallus, To Punctuate!” You can even start the album with lead single “Id Engager” as the first track and play the entire thing backwards for an entirely different yet somehow still cohesive experience.

It’s all a matter of how much you feel you want to immerse yourself into this experience. As someone who’s heard the album dozens of times, now, it’s still fun to pick up new, subtle nuances, as if dissecting fragments of one long, psychodelic dream. To the untrained ear, this is nothing more than a series of song ideas that don’t really add up to complete songs. But to dedicated lampers, this concept of pop-song schizophrenia is nothing short of revelatory.



Anonymous said...

they did an outback commercial with one of their songs with changed lyrics so that they had to do with outback steakhouse. of montreal sucks dick.

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