Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

Cam 27/10/2008

Rating: 4/5

How do you follow up a record that was both a pop gem and the aural equivalent of a mental breakdown? Well, if you're notorious and eccentric exhibitionist Kevin Barnes then creating a black transvestite alter-ego called George Fruit seems like the only way to go. So here we are again, in the ever so schizophrenic world of Of Montreal - full of colour, trumpets and sleazy remarks that would make Jarvis Cocker sound like a cloistered Benedictine nun.

No safe routes here, from the relentless opener 'Nonpareil of Favor', “unpredictable” is the best way to describe Skeletal Lamping. One look at the back of the album might give you the idea that a 15 track record is nothing short of ambitious. Well think again, for this number should perhaps be multiplied by six. Almost every song seems to be a mosaic made of scattered pieces - ranging from catchy pop to even catchier kinky disco glam -, united only by Kevin Barnes' witty, seedy and brutally frank lyrics.

Call him a freak, an outcast or even a dirty bastard but it's hard to think of many contemporary bands that would start a song named 'Women's Studies Victims' with the line “They painted her face like a man's mistake” or, for that matter, coining the phrase “I'm so sick of sucking the dick of this cruel, cruel city” on the soulful and Prince-esque 'St. Exquisite's Confessions'. It's that mixture of bookish savvy with street wisdom, vulgarity with refinement and surrealism with rationale which gives Of Montreal's ninth studio album a sense of uniqueness and originality so lacking in today's predictable scene.

By the end of Skeletal Lamping you get the feeling that there's no turning back, forget the indie pop band who loved to watch birds watching people, Of Montreal will never be the same again. Paul Éluard would be proud, I'm sure Ron Jeremy already is.