Wanna know if you're going to like Of Montreal's latest album? Then ask yourself these two questions:
• Do you have a dark side?
• Do you have a sense of humor?
If you answered "yes" to both of these questions, then do yourself a favor and pick up Lousy With Sylvianbriar.
"But wait a minute," you might say. "You didn't tell me what the album actually sounds like."
That's a valid point. But it's not the main one.
The instrumentation is kind of besides the point when it comes to Kevin Barnes' genius. Much like Bob Dylan, Barnes (the frontman and driving force behind Of Montreal) isn't a notable musician because of his ability to play instruments. He's s a notable musician because of his lyricism. Kevin Barnes is like a songwriter version of Kurt Vonnegut.
A master of dark humor, Barnes gives you the sense you're tuning into one of his inner monologues. His inner dialogues are often dark and fu@#ed up -- but at the same time, or maybe for that very reason, they cause you to snicker. There were a number of times when listening to Lousy With Sylvianbriar I found myself thinking, Wow, did he really just say that? That's funny.
I thought that for the first time with the album's second song, "Obsidian Currents," as Barnes sings,
"But you're so lizardlike you don't feel any passion / For anyone except yourself." Then again with "Sirens of Your Toxic Spirit," in which Barnes paints a colorful description of a bumbling addict: "What friendships you have left / They're not derived from love / They're just some warped form of charity." And finally, with "Imbecile Rages," the last song on the album. Barnes bids adieu with, "Your folks, they are such lovely people / I can't understand where you come from."
Interestingly, however, the overall vibe of Lousy With Sylvianbriar does not come across as emo, depressed, or over-the-top jaded.
This is partially due to the musical style of the album, which is classic psych rock. At times it boasts the bravado of The Rolling Stones, and at others it settles down with a softer Donovan-esque feel. Either way, Lousy With Sylvianbriar is a definite departure from Of Montreal's synth-pop electronic grooviness, and I'm pumped to ring in oM's new era tomorrow live at their concert.
Get tickets for tomorrow's Of Montreal show (Friday, October 25th) at Union Transfer here. Doors open at 8 PM.