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Skeletal Lamping

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iTunes Review

It’s an amorphous and stylistically slippery affair here, with hints of Beck, Bowie, Prince, ‘70s glam, and various shadings of contemporary orchestral pop plus the kind of oddball, smarty-pants weirdness that outfits like Fiery Furnaces are so adept at. Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes is not only on a musical journey, but a personal one, unabashedly exploring themes of introspection, sexual role playing (warning: explicit lyrics ahead!), and inter-relational gamesmanship, throwing down the gauntlet with lyrics like, “I want to show you off, I want to tell you lies; I want to ... make you paranoid and say the sweetest things.” Pop nirvana feels within reach on joyous tracks like “An Eluardian Instance” and “Nonpareil of Favor,” and the sensitive and lovely “Touched Something’s Hollow” might bring on a swoon. But somewhere around “Women’s Studies Victims,” a number of tracks begin to resemble individual, miniature stage dramas... or perhaps inchoate songs searching for their denouement ... and therein lies the challenge. But you’ve been through tougher things. Solider on for your just reward.

Customer Reviews

I was hungry, this album fed me

Tonight I searched all over town for food, but couldn't find any restaurants that were open on campus. So I snuck into a lab and found some poptarts and cashews, then wrote poetry in many separate locations. This album is the perfect music to reflect the disjointed self- it is a pastiche of so many different elements, and still ends up so sexy. "We can do it soft-core if you want..." "I'm a black shemale..." etc. It's as if Of Montreal is trying to say "I want to make love to you, like you want me to" to me, but we both know that BoyzIIMen penned just such a song, so instead they say "As BoyzIIMen might say, I'll make love to you, like you want me to." It's love songs (or sex funk songs, if you're into that) for an age of lost innocence. Such a schizophrenic collage can be overwhelming at times, but I think the band rises above the challenge of pasting together so many disparate elements. I'm out of poptarts and nuts now. The soda is gone too. I'm going to give this one five stars, but we all know the rating system is a little bit skewed, so why don't we just go for it? Maybe this will be helpful. Gosh, I hope so. Make sure to check out "For Our Elegant Caste" and "Id Engager".

I was a hater...

I didn't like Skeletal Lamping after my first listen. It was overwhelming and confusing. After five or six listens though, I began to get a feel for what was going on and started to like the album more and more. And there's a lot going on. Nearly every song is composed of multiple fragments of songs. Some may be longer and more fleshed out than others, but rarely does one song stay within the confines of a traditional pop song. There's a lot of material here and it can be daunting, so the more you listen to it, the more you will appreciate it. My favorite songs are Wicked Wisdom, For Our Elegant Caste, Id Engager, and most of all, An Eluardian Instance, which stays relatively cohesive though you can't pin down any verses or choruses. It has a lot more happiness, purity and innocence than anything else on this album (Touched Something's Hollow always comes across kind of insincere to me, given its context in such a crazy album.) I noticed that most of those songs have the most conventional song structures on the album. One big problem I have with this album is that many of the song fragments sound unfinished and uninteresting. The last two minutes of Plastis Wafers are unneeded, as is the ending of Wicked Wisdom. There are other occurrences of this. I don't have a problem with a song suddenly changing gears, but I feel cheated when it shifts to something that isn't nearly as captivating as what came before. The purposefully disjointed and disorienting nature of this album make it a pretty exhausting, if exciting listen, and I hope this it doesn't make its way onto of Montreal's next album. Another thing that stuck out to me on my first listen and is really something noticeable is the blatantly sexual lyrics. I don't need to quote any songs; you can easily tell what I mean if you hear them. They can be something of an annoyance and prevent me from being comfortable playing this album in front of others who don't know of Montreal. That said, this album wouldn't be the same without them. This album isn't as consistently good as of Montreal's phenomenon Hissing Fauna is. Some songs just aren't that good, where every song on Hissing Fauna (in my opinion) was great. To be fair, it's only about a year since that came out, so I'm happy of Montreal's even releasing a new album.

Incredible, but not for the Of Montreal virgin

First off, I absolutely love this album. It is raw, funky, silly, and poignant all at the same time. "Hissing Fauna" was my favorite album of 2007, and this 2008 follow up did not disappoint. However, this is definitely not a very good introduction to Of Montreal, which has been undergoing a dramatic transformation in sound at least since Satanic Panic in the Attic. The themes, while always dark lyrically, have become even darker melodically. Hissing Fauna had that darkness in spades, and you felt the turmoil of Kevin Barnes in almost every word and chord. With Skeletal Lamping, however, Barnes and the rest have taken that turmoil to another level, transforming it into a freeing explosion of psycho-sexual energy that is still wrought with disturbing thoughts and musical imagery, but this time riding the highs and lows with the enthusiasm of a roller coaster. No where is this more evident than in "St. Exquisite's Confessions", which moves from melancholic emancipation to fearful loathing of the inner turmoil. Yet as the album builds, we are thrust into the forceful, pressed tunnels of "Mingusings" and come out into the psycho-sexual euphoria that is "Id Engager" I love this album, but if you are new to Of Montreal, I'd encourage you to start with nothing newer than Satanic Panic in the Attic, progressing to The Sunlandic Twins and Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer, building up to Skeletal Lamping. My only concern is where do they go from hear? The journey of Barnes (aka "Georgie Peach") is not done, but I have no idea what the future holds. All we know is it will be a bumpy ride as we find out!


Formed: 1996 in Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The brainchild of singer/guitarist Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal was among the second wave of bands to emerge from the sprawling Elephant 6 collective. A native of Athens, Georgia, Barnes was inspired to form the euphoric indie pop group in the wake of a broken romance with a woman from Montreal. He signed with Bar/None Records while living in Florida, subsequently moved to Cleveland and Minneapolis in search of compatible bandmates, and finally returned home to collaborate with bassist Bryan Helium...
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