Album Review — 27 February 2012

By Liz Belilovskaya

I have to hand it to Of Montreal, the newly released Paralytic Stalks is a great improvement from last year’s Controller Sphere. The newly found, balanced sound of the record speaks to fellow musicians and the average audience with experimental yet highly appealing compositions. More creative than edgy, Paralytic is polished just enough to appeal to the masses while maintaining the band’s fringe heritage.A very calm intro to “Gelid Ascent” features barely audible, distant sound effects that quickly elevate as the title implies. A long, far away voice speaks fuzzily and eerily over slow percussion dissonantly accompanied by static and heavily distorted guitars. The strong resemblance to Oasis may interest listeners but the track may be too raw for the first song on the album.

Next up is “Spiteful Intervention” with bell sound effects, light drums and a grating vocal that oddly fits with the tempo asking the audience for a “more elegant solution.” If Architecture In Helsinki met Weezer and spawned, “Spiteful” would be their grandkid. The track has a great, calm but energetic melody with minimal static but some experimentation which is the band’s musical signature.

Following is “Dour Percentage” with a mix of wind, string and/or electronic instruments enveloped in a sort of childish vocal bubble. The 70’s Funk inspired beat, calm and pleasant tempo is a tad vintage, playful and creative. It’s an excellent song that’s not overcrowded with sound effects or synthesizers but remains appropriately elaborate and appealing with it’s simplicity and familiarity.

“We Will Commit Wolf Murder” kicks off with an electric intro complimented by layered, aloof vocals that seem to be squeezed into the track. The back-up vocals create a choir type effect. While the song itself is slow, it’s not sad but calm. The only real problem is its length risking the audiences ability to keep interest.

The completely original sounding “Malefic Dowery” feature mellow and effeminate vocals that range from being spoken to softly sang. The track incorporates piano and wind instruments; it’s loaded with a long  of monologues that resemble a weird acid induced speech. Bells, whistles, clapping, and a folksong vibe make the track very strange and interesting but it won’t appeal to everyone.

The hard to describe “Ye, Renew The Plaintiff” is pretty weird and experimental. It alternates from fast to slow utilizing strange fills and sound effects. The changing tempo and twisting-ticking percussion make the track seem fuller than it actually is. The vocals and music fit perfectly despite the songs unpredictability creating an original effect. It’s worth checking out if only for the killer lead solo, but you should know that the full song spans a hefty nine minutes.

The Eliot Smith sounding “Wintered Debts” boasts a very soft vocal intro that soon changes into the singers trademark scream-spoken monologue accompanied by melodic “oohs” from back up. The usage of the piano is very creative and original since it fills most of the breaks. This type of musical unpredictability is Of Montreal’s forte.

“Exorcismic Breeding Knife” sounds like Wagner on crack. Strings, bells, and the incomprehensible lyrics on this track are unwelcome remnants from the last album. The fancy organ, percussion and vague voice contribute to the eerie sound; many listeners will skip ahead of this song.  Luckily “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission” picks up the beat with a great 13 minute, playful track that resembles mellow party mood.

Of Montreal is a band that appeals to musicians more so than regular audiences;  their great sound, unique compositions and experimental ambitions may go under appreciated by people who just want something easy to listen to. However, this record shows that Of Montreal is quickly and efficiently bridging the aspiring musicians experimental paradise with common approachability. Let’s see what they come up with next.

black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-up 4.25 Out of 5


 

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