Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks

Of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks

It must be difficult to always have one album be compared against an entire body of work. In 2007, Of Montreal broke out of their relative and mild obscurity with Hissing Fauna Are the Destroyer? Part of the album’s success rests in lead singer Kevin Barnes using the record as a soap box to vent years of martial woes with a concept centered on the transformation into his alter ego — Georgie Fruit. Hissing Fauna was based off of as much hallucination as it was endearing memory and while frenetic and fragmentary, struck a chord with listeners — providing the perfect break up album coated in LSD.

Since Hissing Fauna, a larger audience has been a party to Of Montreal slowly moving away from reality. For the past few years, Kevin Barnes and his group of session cosmonauts have progressively been making albums which invent new definitions of eccentricity. The Georgie Fruit personality has guided Of Montreal through the last two records ending at their space funk driven apogee, False Priest. Because it would literally be impossible to top the oddity of False Priest, Kevin Barnes reels in his exploratory tendencies to travel back to earlier themes. On his return trip, Barnes and company skirt over more familiar ground with Paralytic Stalks.

It is not often that I am afforded the opportunity to review a band through an entire record cycle. In 2010, I gave a mild yet head scratching nod to False Priest with as much confusion as muted wonder. While I usually applaud bands for their experimentation, Of Montreal seem to work best when the audience is at least half informed of the conceptual and emotional process. Paralytic Stalks once again travels into the world of emotional angst spurred by Barnes frustrating yet fruitful muse: Nina Barnes. Because Kevin Barnes is unable to write a normal record, Paralytic Stalks constructs a stable world of progressive pop and ultimately sends earthquakes through its inner core.

There are times during Paralytic Stalks when the listener is shown a straightforward pop record. This momentary glimpse is like a time vortex where 2004’s Satanic Twins is hazily brought into view. Paralytic Stalks is a pop record which is hinged on the idea of unraveling. Aside from the late 70’s progressive elements, Barnes experiments with drone and noise to corrode the beginning, middle and ends of songs. This dissolving nature runs throughout Paralytic Stalks providing the unstable undertone which has been the band’s most defining characteristic.

I would be more critical of the Barne’s use of abstraction if it were not so enjoyable. While the last half of Paralytic Stalks deconstructs itself into madness, its collapse is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the record. “Weathered Debts,” while possessing some undeniable hooks, wades knee deep in avant noise. This frenzy continues immediately as the last three songs on Paralytic Stalks ask the most of listeners but ultimately yield the most enjoyment.

Of Montreal would not be as interesting if they could function normally at a party. They have become the kooky yet lovable group who show up to formal dinner parties wearing slippers, neon track suits and feather hairdresses. Kevin Barnes would not be as interesting if he did not embrace an African-American transgendered alter ego. As if choosing a champion to battle Ziggy Stardust and Pink in the arena of the strange, Of Montreal is weird as fuck but goddamn endearing. The band operates at a level which is past the point of catering to an audience. Hissing Fauna was an an anomolly of accidental accessibility. Paralytic Stalks maybe more difficult but so rewarding when given the time and patience. We have moved past the idea of a freak flag and might as well open up a resort.

1. Gelid Ascent
2. Spiteful Intervention
3. Dour Percentage
4. We Will Commit Wolf Murder
5. Malefic Dowery
6. Ye, Renew the Plaintiff
7. Wintered Debts
8. Exorcismic Breeding Knife
9. Authentic Pyrrhic Remission

Of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2012-03-30T11:01:18-07:00 rating 3.5 out of 5

Comments are closed.