‘False Priest’ is psychedelic masterpiece

If you threw the styles of Frank Zappa, The Beatles, disco and copious amounts of LSD in a blender, you might end up with something like Of Montreal.

With a sound too weird for radio play, the band has retreated to their rightful place at the fringe of the indie scene.  Despite their tight-knit friendship with MGMT, these flamboyant Georgia rockers have managed to come out with a style all their own. What started out as the lo-fi indie-pop of front man, Kevin Barns, has now morphed into abstract compositions of massive proportion — just true dada in musical form.

Sometimes intentionally abrasive, sometimes beautifully composed, the listener never knows weather to cringe or beam with laughter.

Of Montreal’s September release, “False Priest,” just proves to be the next progression in their strangeness. Its atmosphere is dense with funky jams and unorthodox sing-alongs, but is lyrically set apart by Barns’ long, strung out narratives of crazy hookups and lavish dance parties. Its goofiness is wildly contagious and, to be frank, incredibly danceable. You just can’t help but get sucked into the grooves.

Tracks like “Our Riotous Defects” come on like an old Bee-Gees song. Part falsetto sing-along, part spoken word, Kevin Barns confesses that, “ I even hooked up with one of your cousins, just to feel closer to you … it was thrilling to touch someone who had touched you.”

More notably is the astral lullaby of “Coquet Coquette.” Its pulsing bass line sets the foundation for — dare I say it — a catchy chorus. The songs laser-like synth solo makes you feel like you’re frolicking on the intergalactic plains of Endor, dancing the night away with ewoks. Complete with powerful drum work, this proves to be a standout track.

Now here’s where this album differs from previous work.  Not only are the tracks on “False Priest” ripe with funk, but they have ambience as well. Sometimes, I was so taken aback by the spacey jams that I literally forgot I was in my apartment. Just one listen of “Godly Intersex” through headphones is enough to send you on a whirling journey through space and time. Somehow, I’m not being overdramatic here.

But what would the album be without a little variation? In the song “Enemy Gene,” the band switches up the pace considerably with a refreshing boy/girl duet. Of course, aural pleasures ensue. Combining elements of psybient music and smooth jazz, this track proves to be a much-needed nice chill-out experience to the bands fired up dance numbers.

Playing out like the soundtrack of a ’70’s porno comes the groovy “Girl Named Hello.” Once again, I’m not being overdramatic. The songs off-beat guitar strumming and walking bass line stirs Barns into quite the sexual fervor. The chiming “Hoo Hoos” in the background serves as a throwback to old school disco bands, which is a fun little bonus.

And honestly, that’s just what “False Priest” is — it’s fun. I’m fairly convinced that anyone who can stomach the initial strangeness of it all is sure to come out a fan.

What “False Priest” gives you is anything but cookie cutter, but hey, who says the industry standard is always right? With “False Priest,” Of Montreal is simply avoiding the sheep and becoming the shepherd.

Reach the reporter at dane.jarvie@asu.edu


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