Release Date: Oct 21, 2008
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
-- always a sense of a language that you don't quite know, likeOf Montreal leader follows break-through with less-danceable kaleidoscope of freakideakiness; declares self black she-maleA consciousness set to shuffle, of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping pours in wave after wave of sudden layered harmonies, disco-McCartney basslines, glammy confessions and impenetrable twin-talk too intense to characterize any one song as any one thing. “I’m just a black she-male, and I don’t know what you people are all about,” mastermind Kevin Barnes frets on “Wicked Wisdom. ” Though far from hookless, Skeletal Lamping dispenses with the easy choruses of last year’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? in favor of overload and come-ons like “you’re the only one with whom I’d role-play Oedipus Rex.
Sex has been used to sell records since Elvis Presley and his hips awoke millions of girls’ libidos in the 1950s. But taboo sex has been in commission only since David Bowie realized that his early-'70s output was lacking an aspect that could move units. A little mascara, a cod piece and sexually ambiguous clothes and lyrics, and wham bam thank you ma’am, you’ve got yourself a bonafied controversy.
Four years after he began refashioning himself as a glam-funk god, of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes still seems to be on a quest for a daring new identity. Skeletal Lamping takes things further than ever, exploring an assortment of explicit fantasies via elaborate multipart suites on which Barnes plays virtually every instrument. It’s impossible not to be impressed by such virtuosic preening.
This Athens, Georgia six-piece are fronted by cross-dressing Kevin Barnes, their take on indie rock as flamboyant as his sexually confused alter-ego Georgie Fruit. Barnes pushes their ninth album to sometimes unlistenable extremes and although it has its moments – 'Touched Something's Hollow' is a beauty – the pleasures to be gained from this sexual experiment are few. .
I’m not a trained psychologist, but in my professional opinion, Skeletal Lamping is not the product of a stable mind. I’ve been following Kevin Barnes for a while now and while I’ve always admired his peculiar kind of, alright I’ll say it, genius, I’ve simultaneously felt that he suffered from a nagging restlessness. This shouldn’t surprise anybody that listens to the music of Of Montreal; it’s likely part of their appeal.
Of Montreal trade in overblown psych-pop, with song titles as flowery as Elton John's living room and a frontman, Kevin Barnes, who sometimes performs naked astride a white horse. So it's not surprising that his band's ninth album lacks restraint. This time, the sextet from Athens, Georgia, head to the disco, where they perform extensive lobotomies on Prince, Sparks and Scissor Sisters.
During the closing moments of 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, bandleader Kevin Barnes introduced his alter ego, an effeminate singer by the name of Georgie Fruit. One year later, that character runs amok on Skeletal Lamping, having wrenched the spotlight away from Barnes' sugary pop and trained it on an ambitious hybrid of glam rock, experimental R&B, and Scissor Sisters-styled sex-funk. Barnes sounds truly uninhibited under the Fruit guise, making declarations like "I'm just a black she-male!" with flamboyant confidence.
You thought Woody Allen’s coital exploits were icky? Welcome to Skeletal Lamping, which could’ve been titled Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Kevin Barnes’ Sex Life (And Should Be Afraid To Find Out). Barnes’ Of Montreal albums have fast become elaborately constructed confessional booths, to the point where it will be no great surprise if the lyrics on his next platter reveal PIN numbers or medical records. His last, and best, offering, 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, disclosed intimate details about everything from Barnes’ stormy domestic life (“dodging lamps and vegetables”) to his stalled neurotransmitters (“come on, chemicals!”).
Of Montreal have always been a frustratingly inconsistent band, all the way back to their first album. While Cherry Peel was full of both musically and emotionally interesting songs, subsequent albums saw Barnes and Co. get lost in their cute, concocted world … that is until the practically perfect Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies in 2001. This inconsistency hasn’t abated much since their transformation from twee vaudevillians into glam pop lunatics, and is especially apparent on their latest, Skeletal Lamping.