of Montreal

Skeletal Lamping
(Polyvinyl Record Co.)

Like their Elephant 6 brethren, of Montreal has always walked the line between the accessible and the avant-garde. Usually, Kevin Barnes and Co. have fallen neatly on the pop side, making music that would work in, say, an Outback Steakhouse commercial — after being stripped of its references to Greek mythology and retrofitted with lines praising the purveyors of the Bloomin' Onion®. Skeletal Lamping, not so much. The sound is still there — there's no shortage of shimmering pop hooks and plenty of discoed-up beats — but it's all discombobulated. Take the opener, "Nonpareil of Favor," which starts out with delicate, harp-like strings before a bouncing bass line and sugary-sweet singing kick in. Three radical tempo changes later, there's nothing but clanging cymbals and a thumping bass drum. This is the point, of course, as Barnes says he wants to depart from the traditional pop song structure, something he experimented with on last year's flawless Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? But the results here are uneven. The brassy opening of "An Eluardian Instance" slows perfectly for a synth-y account of a summer spent scaring mountain goats. "Triphallus, to Punctuate!" on the other hand, doesn't work, starting out with a boring bass noodle before showing it has some life. The chorus turns out to be almost as memorable as the Sunlandic Twins singles, but by the time you wade through the fluff, it's not enough.

 
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