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Brand New of Montreal CD - just out!!!

Of Montreal
False Priest
Polyvinyl Records, 2010
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

What’s in a name? Plenty, if you’re Kevin Barnes. False Priest is his tenth blissful CD, released under the moniker of Montreal. Unfortunately, I was a Johnny-Come-Lately when it came to discovering this project, but then again, they hardly ever come out to So-Cal – I first reviewed them for their 2004 CD, on Polyvinyl Records, Satanic Panic in the Attic, Barnes’s musical aptitude gets “curiouser and curiouser”, to quote Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll.
Each subsequent of Montreal CD has been better and better, both in terms of the music and the lyrics, each one getting more and more adventurous, complex and completely sexually uninhibited as well as androgynous, especially on the previous work, the brilliant Skeletal Lamping.
When Hissing Destroyer Are You the Destroyer? came out, the CD was packed in this kaleidoscopic, quadric-folded with a matching sun-shaped “thingy” made out of the same kind of material as made up the CD package – one of those more and more widely used, especially on indie releases, non-jewel box, paper-based (always, though, with at least 10% recycled paper) – that “poster-board” thickness but with more glossiness on it. I’m sure the reader is well aware of what that means, so to get on with it…
Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? was that sophomore CD of which I wrote above and which was just miles and miles ahead of their previous work; it’s almost as if Barnes was struck with some sort of lightning bolt that zapped into him this wildly creative spark, a child-like imagination with the un-held-back sexual fantasies, androgynous and otherwise and had his musical abilities thrust forward a couple years. Whatever happened, it must’ve been either a really fast, inspirational thing, like I wrote or else it took a long time to get that CD recorded.
After getting into Hissing Fauna… I was so enamored by it and thought that it was so good that this had to be the band’s peak, I mean, could the same guy come up with another CD’s worth of brilliant material and not just a couple good songs and the rest just filler either. But when I got Skeletal Lamping – that’s when my jaw dropped and I knew then that this guy, Barnes, was a real showman, as well as a musical heavy.
Skeletal Lamping was (and, I think, still is) one of the all-time “rock” (since there is really no other label to stick them under) albums and I don’t say that lightly, but when you listen to it many times and get familiar with all that went into it and the originality of it – I couldn’t and still can’t find anyone else’s music, be it contemporary or otherwise, with which to compare it, so right there it is a phenomenon all unto itself.
But what I’m writing about here is their follow up to Skeletal Lamping: False Priest. This too, is a very uniquely written record and it doesn’t bring to mind any other bands/artists or even any sub-genre. When you listen to Skeletal Lamping and it’s best to do so when you listen to the album from beginning to end at one sitting, with headphones or on a good system, very loudly. Listening to that CD, it was like meditating on past wild, exotic and erotic adventures, all night club-hopping, the after-hours parties and the casting off of all inhibitions and the throwing of all caution to the wind because we were young and immortal! At its close, you feel almost drained, as if you’ve just experienced such a crazy-sexy orgy as is indicated by listening. That’s where the follow-up comes in: False Priest is like the chill out room or place you go at, like, 4am or whenever the debauchery’s over for the night and you unwind, but in such a way as to be pleasurable. That is the musical equivalent of False Priest: it’s a decompression chamber, of sorts, to cool off from the sexual heat and thrill of Skeletal Lamping.
But it is not at all a sequel; it is its own album and it stands up, independently, as another brilliant work by Barnes. “Coquet Coquette” has three versions on this CD: there is the regular one, which is track three, then there are two re-mixes at the end of the CD – tracks 14 and 15, the “Starfucker Remix” and the “Yip-Deceiver Remix”, respectively.
Some other songs that stand out a little more so than others, include “Famine Affair” (a “Dear John or Jane” “letter” that is so apt and I’m sure, like me, that it applies to someone in your life, past or present); “A Girl Named Hello” is a groovy cut that has some catchy lines in it as well. The opening song, “I Feel You Strutter”, is a starry-eyed, catchy pop song that mutates into something more blissful and I can’t not mention “Our Riotous Defects”, another one of Barnes’s studies in experimental musicology. And then there’s “Coquet Coquette”, track number three as well as two remixes of it at the end (tracks 14 & 15); “Coquet Coquette” is one of the catchier tunes on here, one of those tunes that will just linger in your mind for hours, if not all day and you won’t even mind not being able to get it out of your mind.
Each song is a little treasure and I can’t, alas, go through them all and deconstruct each one for you, you’ll just have to trust that this is just proof of two things: one, that Polyvinyl is still the most innovative label, in this country, anyway and two, that of Montreal is and was not just a passing fancy that came and went. They are sticking around to continue to provide thought-provoking sensual music that, hopefully, will induce all who listen to throw away their hang-ups, flush ‘em down the toilet, just get rid of them! –KM

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