Artist: Of Montreal
Title: False Priest
Every once in a while a certain mood strikes me and I snatch up as many albums by a particular band that I can find in a relatively short amount of time, and so I quickly found myself with four Of Montreal albums on vinyl, including the newly released False Priest. To say it outright, False Priest is the most focused record that Keven Barnes (the driving force behind the band) has put out in some time. At its basic level it is a streamlined version of 2008’s Skeletal Lamping with the R&B elements brought to the foreground. This is one smooth, danceable album.
Barnes does a great job of keeping the mood going througout the entire album, pausing here and there to change things up such as the ballad-like “Casualty of You” and the freak-out nature of “Around the Way.” Label-mate Janelle Monae contributes vocals to “Our Riotous Defects,” (a surprisingly funny song about obsession and certain relationship realizations), and the groovy “Enemy Gene.” Her appearances are brief and don’t add a great amount to the songs, but they certainly don’t detract from them. While on the subject of guest apperances I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the presence of Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce) on “Sex Karma.” Her appearance is more robust than Monae’s, and does help add a new dimension to Barne’s Prince-like vocals. The song is one of the weaker ones on the album, but it does serve as a fantastic transition into “Girl Named Hello.” Other notable moments include “Famine Affair,” which does the best job of combining the new funk/R&B style with that of the Satanic Panic in the Attic era and may be the best song on the album.
I have a “thing,” let’s say, for albums with great closing tracks, and False Priest has a fantastic closing track. “You Do Mutilate?” has three distinct sections and covers the entire musical-spectrum of the songs before it with a poignant spoken word section at the end which I’d rather not spoil. It’s a puzzling, fascinating end to what is certainly one of the band’s best albums, and one of the best of the year.
A note on the format: I listened to False Priest on the limited-edition 180-gram red vinyl, and after spinning it several times I can’t imagine doing it any other way.