Album Review: Of Montreal’s “False Priest” – Indie Legend Releases 10th Studio Effort

Of Montreal basically consists of the multi-talented Kevin Barnes. Well… essentially. The band’s mercurial line-up currently reports five members. However, the malleable frontman writes, composes, and plays most of the music for the albums. The “band” formed back in 1996 in Athens, Georgia.

Supposedly named for a failed romance of Barnes’ that took place in  Montreal, Canada, since the inception of the band, Barnes has kept himself busy to say the least. He has released an album nearly every year. Of Montreal has ten album releases under its belt to date. The latest, False Priest just hit the (digital) shelves in mid-September.

Of Montreal is part of the Elephant 6 Recording Company. This is a collection of American musicians who spawned some of the most notable independent bands of the 1990’s, including Apples in Stereo and the prolific Neutral Milk Hotel. And true to the founding form, Of Montreal combines musical experimentation and pop sensibilities to create unpredictably catchy melodies. Barnes’ creations have a notable affinity for vaudeville, and psychedelia, and more recently afrobeat and krautrock.

For False Priest Barnes brought in Jon Brion for production duties. Brion, a film composer, has collaborated with Fiona Apple and Kanye West and his eclectic resume is evident in the albums versatile musical architecture. R&B bigwigs Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles lend their lyrical stylings through guest appearances on the record.

The album marks Barnes first departure from recording alone at his own home studio. It is perhaps this very change that allows False Priest to better frame Barnes’ often splintered vision. Jon Brion helps to bring a more collaborative and inclusive essence to the new record.  At times False Priest is simply too busy, revealing Barnes caught up in his own dementia. But for fans of Of Montreal, who have come to love and expect such chaotic structures, there are plenty of satisfying tracks on the tenth album. Backdrops of undulating bass give the high-voiced wailing Barnes some much needed gravity.

Barnes had this to say about the new vibe on False Priest, “There’s a thick R&B influence, so it’s cool that we have a lot of deep low end. It’s one of those things where if you listen to it on your laptop, you’re not going to hear it, but if you listen to it in the club, then you’re really going to hear it; you’re really going to feel it.”

Of Montreal’s live shows are complex collaborative events showcasing elaborate exhibitions of creativity gone wild. The bands’ shows are marked for their full on attack of all the senses, parading theatrics complete with absurd costumes and synchronized dance. The band has a slew of live shows coming up, so if your overseas and have an appetite for the dramatic stroke check em’ out!

Of Montreal LIVE!!!

October 5 – Manchester Academy 2 – Manchester, UK
October 6 – Koko- London, UK

– Amanda Decker


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