By Matthew Waldrep
Odd-ball indie pop band, Of Montreal, released their 11th studio album, “Paralytic Stalks,” in early February.
For a band that’s created it’s own mythos over the span of almost a dozen albums throughout the late 90s and 2000s, “Paralytic Stalks” may be one of Of Montreal’s more arbitrary releases.
With tales of strange towns and characters defining their early career and their break through album, “Satanic Panic in the Attic,” and transitioning into their cheeky and suicidal album “Hissing Fauna are you the destroyer?” which marked lead singer and song writer Kevin Barnes’ transition into ‘Georgie Fruit,’ the African American drag-queen singer, Of Montreal has never ceased to embrace the bizarre.
While certainly not a standout accomplishment, “Paralytic Stalks” is a bit of fresh air from the ‘Georgie Fruit’ trilogy of albums that followed the successful “Hissing Fauna” and preceded this current release.
Barnes has put away his cross-dressing alter-ego but kept his usual lyrics that reflect a chemical imbalance and broken psyche.
Barnes has been reported saying that this album is a bit more personal than previous albums.
While he’s never been one to hold back from writing songs about demented and unhealthy love, they have usually been in the context of a more whimsical approach.
Concept albums and story telling have certainly been a trademark for Of Montreal, but “Paralytic Stalks” simply doesn’t carry the same dramatic flow. Constant melody changes and broken up verses make for a messy and poorly arranged musical experience.
But the biggest thing lacking on the album are the hooks.
The first half of the album retains some definable refrains; “I spend my waking hours haunting my own life, I made the one I love start crying tonight and liked it,” on the second track “Spiteful Intervention.”
Unfortunately it’s nothing break-through and simply more of Barnes’ typical manic lyrics.
“Dour Percentage” recalls some of the rolling disco bass lines and delicate falsetto verses met by belting chorus give the band such a unique sound.
However, the later part of the album falls deeper into a psychedelic collage of broken up piano plinking mixed with layered synth and misplaced arrangements.
While “Paralytic Stalks” is not terrible there is simply little to be really remembered on the album.