don't you tell me how i feel.

pop montreal? by v
March 28, 2012, 8:31 am
Filed under: "challenging", eh, New music, shit i don't get

I think I may have reached a point of no return with Of Montreal. Once upon a time, bandleader Kevin Barnes was able to channel personal drama into crazily inventive albums, some of which could be fairly termed modern classics. Lately, however, I think he may have fallen off some sort of musical cliff.

You could argue that the classic OM elements are still present on their latest album, Paralytic Stalks: Barnes busts out falsetto and is generally heedless of syllable counts. Strings abound, several songs are well over seven minutes long, and the titles are an exercise in random adjective-noun pairings (“Dour Percentage” and “Wintered Debts,” anyone?). But it seems like Barnes is way too deep into his own head, free-associating like mad and forsaking any pop sensibility in favor of… artiness? Self-indulgence? Satisfying a compulsive urge to create?

Whatever the case, there’s nothing to grab onto or return to here, and nary a chorus in sight.

It’s also possible that he’s losing it to some degree — the subject matter has gone from weird to full-on deranged. On “Ye Renew the Plaintiff, ” Barnes wails: “I’m desperate for something but there’s no human word for it / I should be happy but what I feel is corrupted, broken, impotent and insane.” I admire his candor, but I just want to back away slowly.

Of course, I’m not suggesting they need to return to Outback-Steakhouse-commercial levels of palatability (click here and here if you’re unfamiliar with that situation). And I’m willing to entertain the idea that my attention span has been eroded by the internet, and/or that Kevin Barnes’ musical expression has evolved beyond what mere mortals can grasp. But dammit, I don’t think a hook is too much to ask for.

All that being said, the Of Montreal following is still rabid, and, I imagine, forgiving. We’ll see what happens next.


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