Of Montreal: Paralytic Stalks

    On Paralytic Stalks, art-pop eccentrics of Montreal move from the Prince-like, guitar-heavy R&B sound of their most recent work, False Priest, into their darkest psychedelic circus yet. The powerful production of the album hits you from the start — it features a heavier, almost shoegaze-esque sound highlighted with avant-garde, classical-inspired orchestrations and catchy pop hooks full of lead man Kevin Barnes’ trademark melodic sass. 

    Still holding on to the unhinged aesthetic of earlier works, of Montreal create contemporary soundscapes comprised of industrial synths and organic strings that stress themes of insanity and doom.  It’s a sad album in that Barnes refers solely to his real life troubles. “Spiteful Intervention,” for example, is a spinning lullaby full of bizarre harmonies that lead you into the depths of Barnes’ troubled consciousness.  As he croons, “It’s fucking sad we need a tragedy to occur / To gain a fresh perspective in our lives,” a very personal side of the frontman surfaces.

    “Ye, Renew the Plaintiff,” a multi-part, Bowie-influenced eight-minute jam, sees Barnes addressing his wife with all of his problems. Between great vocal shifts and compelling musical transitions (the track is like several songs in one), lyrics like “How can I defend myself against this world?” and “I can think nothing but getting my revenge” sum up the thematic spirit of Stalks, leading to the beautiful second half of the album  — an ultimate release of numbing drones and hypnotic, driving vocals that lift us from the cacophony of Barnes’ troubled psyche, and back into our own. (8/10

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