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Rhythm & Views

Of Montreal


They say if you hate the weather in San Francisco, wait 30 minutes, and it'll change. On Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping, it's often less than 30 seconds before a melody sheds its skin and shimmies into a whole new sonic trip.

This Athens, Ga.-based ensemble, anchored by songwriter/vocalist Kevin Barnes, has been a critical darling for some time. Their impish and inventive stylings run the gamut of indie pop, though they've emphasized glam-rock and psychedelia.

Skeletal Lamping picks up the threads from earlier recordings, though there isn't a pop genre on which Barnes doesn't touch. But as much as Of Montreal's music has always been likened to an explosive sound collage, they've never had such a pronounced case of ADD.

Though usually built around a catchy hook or chorus, a song may begin as a quiet ballad, bridge into punk-thrash guitar and then slide into synth-driven disco. Barnes' cheesy falsetto draws from Freddy Mercury and Bowie during his Ziggy phase. It's fun in a mockingly irreverent way, but can just as easily seem redundant or grating.

The lyrics feature scads of bitchy girl-talk and bawdy sexual references. Again, while this can be deliciously tongue-in-cheek, it can also seem silly and gratuitous.

Of Montreal's greatest danger is that their taste for wicked parody overshadows their clear wealth of talent. But as the band seems determined not to take itself seriously, why should we? If Of Montreal is to be more than a novelty band for college radio, they need to create something with more focus and depth.

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