Plumbiferous Media

False Priest – Of Montreal

Sep 2nd 2010
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False Priest - Of MontrealOf Montreal
False Priest
Score: 89

Second generation Elephant 6 band, of Montreal, releases their newest LP, False Priest, on the 14th. The band seems to go in relatively even cycles, producing good record, then bad record, then good, and so forth, so after the misguided Skeletal Lamping, we were expecting a great record. Judged solely on the vinyl packaging, False Priest is nothing special: a simple gatefold, with an art booklet rudely shoved in one of the sleeves. Even the actual pressing is sub-par. But the aforementioned booklet does contain some very strange artwork, and the album easily matches the art, pig head for pig head. False Priest is easily the most diverse album yet, one of the strangest, and though definitely not the best, one of of Montreal’s strongest albums to date.

Kevin Barnes is back in all of his glory, with every bit of the falsetto-laden wailing that implies. Barnes is, as always, excellent at giving every one of his tracks the combination of semi-insane charm and energy that makes of Montreal what it is. Barnes smoothly switches between the highly amusing spoken word of “Our Riotous Defects” and more traditional of Montreal fare, such as the excellent “Coquet Coquette.” But whatever mode Barnes is in at a given moment, he’s at the top of his game throughout False Priest, and it really pushes the album along.

Barnes’ usual lyrical mix is about half apiece of psychedelic strangeness and absolute hilarity, and on False Priest that unique mix comes together beautifully. There are very few artists that could get away with using “I Feel Ya Strutter” as both a song title and a refrain, and Kevin Barnes is one of them. Whether it’s spoken word interludes or the philosophical absurdity of “You Do Mutilate?”, Barnes’ words give False Priest the resounding appeal that makes the album so enjoyable.

False Priest is one of a few albums that truly has everything, even the kitchen sink, but more importantly, it’s one of a much smaller group that successfully includes the kitchen sink. From the guitar heavy, powerful “Coquet Coquette” to the funk-influenced “Like a Tourist,” False Priest acts as a museum of both old and new sounds for the continually evolving band. And somehow everything fits in perfectly. Though it was a lackluster and disappointing second single, “Hydra Fancies” is a necessary and excellent addition to the album, and “Coquet Coquette” somehow manages to sound even better surrounded by the rest of False Priest than it did by itself. Of Montreal gets away with murder on False Priest. The blatantly obtrusive bass that rocks the earlier parts of the album somehow only serves to strengthen the tracks, and tracks that should clash horribly sit together without so much as a bicker. In fact, of Montreal has worked so hard to defend its murder that it has no reason to cover it up, and as a result, False Priest works, and works very, very well.

False Priest is, on the whole, an excellent album. It’s good to see of Montreal back on the horse, but to see the band besting much of their extremely strong older work with some very, very experimental tracks is even more exceptional. Combining the best parts of of Montreal’s most successful albums with some new energy from Barnes, not to mention that added by Janelle Monáe in her appearances, False Priest is not only successful but simply fun.

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