I think Of Montreal is a really cool band, plain and simple. Formed in 1996, singer/songwriter Kevin Barnes named the group after a former flame that was from Montreal, Canada. Talk about boss band name back-stories, huh? They’re also from Athens, Georgia, which earns them some major points with me—considering I have a ton of friends that go to UGA, and I’m from South Carolina myself. Their first album in 1999 was entitled Cherry Peel, and the band has since recorded 9 more—the latest being False Priest.
“I Feel Ya’ Strutter” kicks off the album with a catchy doo-wop feel that is reminiscent of “Grace Kelly” crooner Mika—yes, there’s even some falsetto involved. Janelle Monae makes an appearance on the next tune, “Our Riotous Defects,” which is an amusing speak-singing narrative following a hipster romance with a crazy chick. Monae’s presence, sorry to say, certainly brings down the momentum of the song, and seems hastily tacked on with no real value. And while there are some witty lyrics, “Coque Coquette” drags on a bit unnecessarily, and has a rock vibe that doesn’t suit the group so well. “Godly Intersex” had me a bit worried at the beginning with its sluggish pace, but picked up with some pleasant excitement in the last minute or so. The next Janelle Monae duet fares much better than the first—“Enemy Gate” has some dark energy flowing throughout, but is still quite catchy with some fine work by the drummer here. “Hydra Fancies” simply screams of MGMT with its funky electronic beats, guaranteeing a captivating, psychedelic listen. Vote for some of the strangest lyrics I’ve ever heard goes to “Like A Tourist”—“Unicorns eating baby meat/There’s a dragon rape if you want one/ One’s the loneliest number.” Don’t know what was in their pipe, but I’d sure like to try some. Although rather odd, reading the lyrics to this song definitely increased my respect for the group. The next tune “Sex Karma” features Solange Knowles (yes, the other half of that random chick you hear on the radio, Beyonce). I would say it’s my favorite of the 3 major duets on the record if not for the sole reason that Knowles’ voice blends perfectly with that of Barnes. It has a tarty-sweet beat to it, which segues right into “Girl Named Hello” flawlessly. While less intriguing than its predecessor, the tune still drips with energy that is impossible to enjoy. The band slows the pace down some for “Famine Affair” which isn’t a bad song by any means, but is simply not all that interesting. Uninspired beats, cliché lyrics, and vocals that are slightly grating to the ears. It at least has some more stamina than “Casualty of You,” which feels like the group was losing steam and decided on a melancholy tune ending in chaotic noise that was supposed to sound “desperate” or “woeful.” Woeful for the 3 wasted minutes of my life, yes. They luckily redeem themselves with the futuristic “Around the Way,” and finish off in style on the musical roller coaster of “You Do Mutilate?” Exploring multitudes of beats and genres within the near 7 minutes of music, Of Montreal reminded me of why I liked them in the first place.
Why is that, you might ask? Well…besides the fact they’re from Georgia and have a legit name. It’s because they have unique music that transcends the usual hipster mold of music and creates an all-around satisfying listening experience. Yes, there are a few weak links, but False Priest shows that even after 10 years, Of Montreal still has the contagious originality of a newcomer. And for that, I applaud them with my skinny jeans and Vans in tow.