Originally part of the Elephant 6 collective,Â Of Montreal have been around for many years and now, ten albums in, they still maintain a lot of Elephant 6”™s group style with their penchant for musical experimentation and mixing of styles.
False Priest is essentially a very odd album. Even without the heavy psychedelic and funk influences that are obvious on many of the tracks, the album can easily be described as weird, ostentatious and at times hard to listen to.
Recent Of Montreal albums seemed to have themes and concepts that were bubbling to the surface, whereas False Priest would appear to be more of a bizarre mishmash of thoughts and ideas. Because of this, the album, at times, lacks inspiration and is too unconventional for its own good. It”™s like lead singer and songwriter Kevin Barnes, and his transsexual alter-ego Georgie Fruit, are being off the wall for the sake of being off the wall. There is a heavy funk influence on this album, and that genre is known for its space imagery, but lyrics like ”˜Unicorns eating baby meat, There”™s dragon rape if you want one”™ on ‘Like A Tourist’ are a bit over the top.
But that”™s not to say there is nothing good on the album. Barnes has released the production of the album to Jon Brion and this certainly shows as the album has a wonderfully well produced sound. Brion also brings some wonderful buoyant synth sounds with him with the solos on ‘Hydra Fancies’ and ‘Coquet Coquette’ being almost frenzied delights, especially with the synth being joined by a dense guitar sound on the latter. In fact real instruments, especially a thumping bass that beats in time with the ranging vocals, make much more of an appearance on this album than on recent Of Montreal outings.
Brion”™s production seems to have highlighted what are the best parts ofÂ Of Montreal,Â especially Barnes’ vocals, which range from warbling falsetto to deep baritone, and these are especially noticeable in the harmonies with Solange Knowles on ‘Sex Karma’ and Janelle Monae on ‘Enemy Gene’, with these two duets producing two of the high points of the album.
What we have with False Priest is potential; it would seem that Barnes is on the cusp of something, trying to move on from his previous sound but slightly unsure of which direction to take and so reticent to leave anything behind. It”™s an odd, stuttering outing that will not be to all tastes. There is a lot that will appeal to fans of the band but it could have been so much more.