For their tenth studio album, Of Montreal ventures into the funky and soulful world of R&B wile keeping true to their experimental indie style on False Priest.
Leading man Kevin Barnes takes listeners on stylistic twists and turns as he bounces from the vocal swagger of old school Mick Jagger and Otis Redding’s figurative love child, and the quivering falsetto of Prince. This journey is set perfectly with the epic soul opening “I Feel Ya’ Strutter.”
“Our Riotous Defects” veers into Prince’s hey-day, with a contagious dance beat as Barnes tells a Flight of the Concords-inspired rant of a relationship’s shortcomings and a woman’s lack of sanity. The subject matter is a bit harsh, but it becomes a booming instrumental concoction of pure fun, which, in retrospect, makes the lyrics hilarious.
Barnes makes the musical journey a solid one by himself, but he still seeks accompaniment from two of the soul world’s top sisters. “Enemy Gene” is a smoother track, featuring critic darling Janelle Monáe’s velvety croon and is more guided by synth than R&B-inspired low end work. “Sex Karma” features the less-relevant Solange Knowles and tries to prove a body isn’t a wonderland, but a playground, creating a fun but overall simple and uninspiring track.
Although the styling of False Priest enchants people into a hypnotic-like state as it teeters between the hardships of love and consciousness with the rock-driven “Famine Affair” and the mindless dance party in “Like A Tourist,” when the lyrics lack humanity, the songs feel hollow.
Disco and R&B have successfully been revitalized for the super-hip masses with criminally fun dance tracks, but it’s clear with False Priest, that in an album of extremes, it only works if you mean what you say.
In a Word: Nostalgic