Hiding skeletons in the closets Of Montreal

Skeletal Lamping Of Montreal (Kill Rock Stars)3 StarsOf Montreal is ridiculous. Any evaluation of any single word that comes out of Kevin Barnes’ mouth should be taken with a grain of salt. From the lyrics to the composition, to the overarching themes, to the gaudy costumes they wear on stage, ridiculous could not better describe the whole of the parts. In fact, their latest album, “Skeletal Lamping,” defines ridiculous. The album is extremely personal, reading like a diary. Complete with sudden style shifts, an emphasis on electronica, disco beats, a large helping of glam rock and a well-used sound machine, “Skeletal Lamping” illuminates the ups and downs in Barnes’ life. The overarching theme of unrequited love seems to be on par with an emotionally distraught teenager. From “My lover I’ve been donating time to review / All the misinterpretations that define me and you” in “Nonpareil of Favor” to “I feel like the last time is gonna be / my final collapse” in “Mingusings,” the album details the stages of falling in love and the grief and anger that is familiar to all. Akin to many indie rock bands, Of Montreal tries to flaunt their wisdom – but unlike others, they both establish their pretentiousness and mock others who are more intelligent than themselves. Please define “elgardian,” “triphallus” and “mingusings.” Not in the dictionary? Yep, Of Montreal duped you too. The songs, playfully diverse in tone and style, feature serious, thought-provoking ideas such as the “Id,” “Women’s Studies Victims” and references to Shakespeare and Apollonian beauty. As on their previous albums, “Skeletal Lamping” features dynamic reversals of songs, often adding to their meaning. In “For Our Elegant Caste,” the music shifts uncontrollably, leading into a Beatles-esque ballad and a weary, questioning voice. Yet while Barnes’ gifted voice range makes these dramatic shifts in tone possible, the overzealous use of his voice overshadows the core of several songs. In “Women’s Studies Victims,” the song loses much of its value due to a comical shift from a dark ballad to a happy, synth-y mess. The majority of their songs are cut-and-paste jobs of similarly themed ideas. With this synth-heavy, disco and DJ-friendly style, the noise interludes in the middle of songs such as “For Our Elegant Caste” and “Gallery Piece” retract from their otherwise playfully dark style. Like most of the bands on their label Elephant Six, Of Montreal puts little emphasis on accessibility. This becomes particularly apparent in “Plastis Wafer,” a song with outrageously sexual lyrics and repetitive sound loops. But, in the indie world, inaccessibility is the norm, and obscurity and trendiness aren’t mutually exclusive. Just ask Pitchfork. Nevertheless, Of Montreal can pull off the unheard-of and the ridiculous by not hiding behind a false veil of importance – Kevin Barnes and his multi-colored posse face the limelight with a naked body and uninhibited theatrics. Just lay off the noise rock, guys.