Record Review: of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping

22 10 2008

Of Montreal-Skeletal Lamping [Polyvinyl], Released October 21st 

 

When I sat down to listen to this album my good buddy Frank and I drank a pint of acid and got ourselves extremely comfortable and naked in a barricaded motel room. Frank didn’t make it, but not before writing all over the walls “When bread becomes toast it can never go back to being bread” with a magic marker he smuggled in. This experience, along with the loss of Frank, may have skewed my view of the album permanently. Here are some thoughts I have retained. 

Skeletal Lamping, the ninth studio release of Athens, Georgia’s of Montreal is an Elephant 6 influenced, twitchy compilation of thirty nine miniature songs of semi-related topics that were manipulated in a rock orchestra style to develop a sporadic fifteen track entity. Back to my subtle bread and toast metaphor, to me, the album is related to their 2007 release “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” as John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus” is related to “Hedwig and the Angry Itch” in an orgy filled, masturbation fueled, type of succession.

The first couple tracks include some of the more interesting chanted lyrical excerpts such as, “I’m just a black shemale, and I don’t know what you people are all about,” and, “We can do it softcore is you want, but you should know I take it both ways”. Naturally, this second line is followed up by a smoothly panned afrobeat percussion segment acutely skewed into the track. “Touched Something Hollow” is a brief, mellow piano driven interlude that is reminiscent of something like Will Cullen Hart singing an Elliott Smith tune, asserting that Olivia Tremor Control and The Zombies influence that is so recognizable with of Montreal. This track stood out for me, as well as “St. Exquisite’s Confessions”, which opened with a smooth introduction wrought with a perfect combination of overtly pornographic lyrical blends and backing harmonies, meanwhile not overloading the senses with their style of ear-bleeding schizopop. Unfortunately this eventually breaches into a Bowie meets space rock jam, and of course turns into yet another distinct song entirely before the track actually ends. 

Simply put, “Plastis Wafers” is too freaking long. It kicks off as a kind of disco pop with clear influences from the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (and cross-dressing parties). This of course changes into eight different other songs by the end of its seven minute duration. This song, like the album as a whole, feels slightly forced and attention deficit, despite its rare, brevity struck moments when it all seems to come together very nicely. 

Fabakis Rating: 6.3 (or if you prefer, how I would visually describe the album)

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