Of Montreal, Surprisingly, Gets More Creative

But maybe a little too creative on False Priest.

Of Montreal

False Priest

Released on Sep 14, 2010


f Montreal’s tenth album is a Kevin Barnes playground (enter at your own risk) mixing the best and most recognizable from previous albums (melodic and catchy upbeat tunes, mouthfuls of lyrics, and danceable jam numbers) with an in-depth exploration into a darker and freakier nature.   

Although “Our Riotous Defects” features Janelle Monae (Wondaland Arts Society), who offers up a vocal accompaniment that seamlessly coalesces with Barnes’ loudest funky side, and provides an amusing story line (“When I first met you at that al-anon meeting/ And you made that reference to all your goodies are gone/ And even a sang a verse/ I was amazed how husky your singing voice was/ I wanted to talk to you so badly…”  He then goes on to monologue an even more bizarre lyric about sleeping with the crazy girl’s cousin to feel closer to her.), the opening of the album is slightly jarring and dismissible until track three: “Coquet Coquette.”   

“Coquet Coquette” finds Barnes in the smooth vocal range we heard repeatedly on The Sunlandic Twins, with instrumentation that is powerful, sexy, and easy to vibe with.  He’s continuously clever with his lyrics: “With you I can only see my black-light constellations/ And other shit I don’t think I have the language to say… Something must be wrong/ You give me emotional artifacts that can find no purchase.”   

“Godly Intersex” dabbles in horror-house echoes and feels the most electronic of any song on the album with stark beats and pop-synth play akin to Passion Pit.  “Enemy Gene” fuses softer vocals and creepy instrumentation, singing, “A zombie’s licking your window/ For black body radiation.”  Monae joins in again and helps accentuate the futuristic, sci-fi feel of the song, which seems to carry some shade of happy undertone despite its apparent darkness.  “Hydra Fancies” carries a ‘70s vibe and definite R&B influence, while “Like A Tourist” feels like Barnes got lost in a dance party and brings a “Vogue”-like monologue a fourth of the way through—his vocals eventually soar to a place I had no idea he could go, which although pleasantly surprising, abruptly dip into a slightly ugly moment wherein for a moment, I thought Kesha made her way onto the album.  Throw in some spotlight guitar riffs and cute backing vocals (bup ba dup, bup ba dup) and this is the kind of mess that has me confused about what this album is all about.   

“Sex Karma” features Solange Knowles (do you find this weird, too?), and hits on the same notes of success as “Godly Intersex,” singing, “You took me centuries to master/ In the next life I will have to learn you faster.”  “Girl Named Hello” follows up on where “Hydra Fancies” left us, grooving and with a Barnes alter-ego named Georgie Fruit (see “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal” off of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?).  “Casualty Of You” is a dark, dark ballad-esque saunter that stands out like a black eye—if you heard this song by itself, it’d be difficult to guess that it belonged to this album.   

“You Do Mutilate?” ends False Priest with an out of control (but totally controlled) Barnes—strange and leaves me asking, “What the hell just happened?”  I guess, as a fan of the older and more marketable nature of Of Montreal, it’s difficult for me to lean into the freakier side of this album—mind bending stories never felt so wrong and after a hard listen, I think I’ll be selectively coming back to this album.   

High Point

Barnes succeeds in showing us that he has no cap on creativity or wackiness, laying out a full spread complete with the upbeat, the dark, the ‘70s, and no shortage of synth dance numbers.

Low Point

All of the off-color nonsense on this album only left me with “Coquet Coquette” and “Sex Karma” to enjoy.

Posted by Beth Yeckley on Sep 14, 2010 @ 7:07 am

of montreal, false priest, review