There is a high degree of whimsy that accompanies each new of Montreal release, one that is evidenced by the overwhelming sexuality of the records, and one that is certainly apparent in the band's new album, Skeletal Lamping. Driven by a sexual freedom, singer Kevin Barnes's lyrical candor can often be as overwhelming as his on-stage presence. All the same, it isn't always clear what he's trying to say. "Wicked Wisdom," for instance, is boggling: "I'm just a black she-male/And I don't know what you people are all about." Then again, sometimes his lyrics are glowingly forthright: "We can do softcore if you want/But you should know I take it both ways."
This sexuality is just as vital to the band's success as it is to distinguishing and appealing to Of Montreal's fans. Additionally, it's vital that the band not shy away too far from the themes that have contributed to its headliner status, a mistake that isn't made with Skeletal Lamping. Take, for instance, the number of openly frigid conservatives at the band's shows compared to that of adoring adolescents and neo-hippies. Would drab recollections timidly bemoaning lost love honestly appeal to the latter? Probably not. Likewise, which group would be more receptive to such visually ripe lyrics as those in "St. Exquisite's Confessions": "I'm so sick of sucking the dick of this cruel world, I've forgotten what it takes to please a woman/But that's all gonna change"? Which group of listeners would be interested in an album that unnoticeably shifts between electro-funk and lightly shredding guitars? Accordingly, Of Montreal have identified its core audience and such a group of youthful, free-loving music listeners will not be disappointed by Skeletal Lamping.
[This article was first published by City Pages.]