Change does not have to be for the worse, something that of Montreal has proven from square one. Of Montreal has been an active band for fourteen years, releasing nine other albums prior to “False Priest.”
New albums are hardly a rare occurrence for them; and the exploration of other genres (while continuing their loyal tendencies in producing indie rock, neo-psychedelia, and Baroque pop) is hardly a new occurrence for lead-singer Kevin Barnes’s songwriting style either.
“False Priest” ventures into genres such as funk, R&B, disco, and a bit of an ‘80s new wave sound. It’s surprising how well the genres blend together with such conflicting principles. They blurred together into a single super-genre that is danceable, soulful, and one that still manages to please the indie listeners.
The album opens with “I Feel Ya Strutter,” a strong track with incredibly high energy, bringing back the sound of ‘70s disco in a modern take. Some other immensely solid tracks on the album are “Our Riotous Defects,” “Coquet Coquette,” “Sex Karma” and “Famine Affair.”
The element of surprise is heavy on this album, as the songs often change gear mid-melody.
“False Priest” features two guest artists, Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles. It was a brilliant choice to select both of these artists to be featured on the album because both of their voices merge with Barnes’s in such a delectable manner. However, it is sometimes alarming to realize that Barnes’s voice reaches higher pitches than those of Monáe and Knowles.
The lyrics in “False Priest” are often nonsensical, but when intended for the listener to understand, they are amusing if not hilarious. The tracks (excluding “Casualty Of You” and “Around The Way”) often have such cheerful and playful tones, while the lyrics are often foreboding and morbid. This creates an interesting contrast between the aspects that make up the song as a whole.
The album closes with “You Do Mutilate?” which unmistakably resembles “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones in the middle of the song. The track ends with a bizarre monologue by Barnes, which leaves the listener in a strange haze. It was not necessarily a great way to end the album, but Barnes indubitably gets the effect he was looking for.
For those of you who are planning to listen to this album with headphones, a caveat: the music is often intense and overwhelming, especially when led directly into your ear canals.
4 out of 5 stars.