Author: Tori Eberle
With the help of his glam rock alter ego Georgie Fruit, Kevin Barnes has once again created and composed another of Montreal album to arouse and bewilder the masses. Titled False Priest, the album is both an excellent companion to Skeletal Lamping as well as a superb continuation of the band’s themes concerning sex and relationships. Of Montreal’s sound has changed dramatically since the release of Cherry Peel in 1997 from indie lo-fi to neo-psychadelic indie pop. The transition is not complete, as can been seen with the band’s most recently released album. The band’s tenth full-length album shows influences of R&B and organic instrument use as opposed to the band’s more recent obsessions with acid-fusion funk and pop.
For the first time on an of Montreal album, Barnes has collaborated with acts besides himself. On past albums like Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Barnes performed duets, even vocal battles with himself. However, False Priest includes the voices of female performers such as newcomer Janelle Monáe and even Solange Knowles, sister of Beyoncé (aka Sasha Fierce). Though this seems like an unlikely pair of collaborators for the Athens native band, of Montreal actually worked with Janelle Monáe on a song from her latest LP ArchAndroid (Suites II and III). Barnes even produced Solange Knowles’s latest album.
One of the best tracks on False Priest is“Coquet Coquette.” Not because it includes the voices of Monáe or Knowles but actually just because it reminds one of tracks from older of Montreal albums. Upbeat and dramatic (like any really good of Montreal song), it references mythology as well as astronomy with lyrics like “With you I can only see my black-light constellations” or “My Coquet, you’re Herculean, you are so miserable.”
“Enemy Gene,” the fifth track of the album (as well as the second track featuring Janelle Monáe) is almost an existential question as well as a song about heartache and zombies. Meanwhile, the other track that features Monáe “Our Riotous Defects” starts out slow with piano and Barnes whining about a “crazy girl.” It picks up with beats similar to “So Begins Our Alabee” and Barnes speaking plainly and reminiscing over the so-called crazy girl. Like “An Eluardian Instance,” one might be confused as to what Barnes is actually trying to say but yet unable to stop dancing uncontrollably whenever the song is played.
The track that features Solange Knowles appears at first to be a little more electronic and also similar to a Hissing Fauna-type sound. Hearing Solange duet with Barnes is disconcerting as well as refreshing. Her raspy, diva-esque voice brings attitude to the song as well as emphasizes the R&B influence that Barnes points out as being a major goal for the album. The song also reminds one of the playful sexuality of of Montreal’s lyrics with the phrase repeated throughout the track “You look like a playground to me, player.” False Priest, while not the best example of of Montreal’s repertoire, is a sassy album with saucy beats and the foundations for a perfect transition to Kevin Barnes’s next carnal masterpiece.