Of Montreal stopped in Carrboro N.C. on Sunday night, rounding out their US tour for 12th studio album 'Lousy With Sylvianbriar' with the show at Cat's Cradle. Ever famous for reinvention, this of Montreal release sees not only a typical genre shift, but also a change to the band's lineup.
'Lousy With Sylvianbriar' began as Kevin Barnes' side project, before taking on the Of Montreal name upon completion. Barnes locked himself away in San Francisco, drawing influence by the works of Sylvia Plath as he wrote 'Lousy,' before returning to Athens, GA to record the album with a talented group of musicians he had no prior experience with. Following the decision to name 'Lousy' as an Of Montreal album, Barnes chose to incorporate the new band members as well, and bring them on tour with him.
This album sees a shift towards more traditional guitar/vocal combinations, following up 'Paralytic Stalks' which was more of a soundscape. "Fugitive Air" is a good example of 'Lousy' melding the new guitar-centric sound with Barnes' classic storybook lyrics; while "Obsidian Currents" sees a toned down Of Montreal harmoniously incorporating Rebecca Cash's feminine touch and airy vocals in a way that pleasantly complements Barnes. Cash is a welcome addition to the band, as are the other new instrumentalists. It could almost be said that this generation brings a new level of accessibility to Of Montreal as a whole, and presents the opportunity to expand their fan base.
One thing fans can expect of this new reincarnation of the band is that the circus has not been forgotten. Much to the delight of the glitter makeup and googly-eye adorned mask wearing crowd at Cat's Cradle, Of Montreal has moved on from spanking pigs to opening with a monologue by Lanc, who hails from another planet and may or may not eat humans for breakfast. Lanc introduced us to his friend Kevin Barnes, before disappearing only to return in the encore to lead the crowd in a raucous rendition of what can only be known as "The Candy Man Song." The rest of the stage show must truly be seen to be believed, complete with giant silver butterflies, stage diving masked mimes and a whole lot of feathers.
Musically, 'Lousy With Sylvianbriar' translates well live, and compared to album listening, meshes amicably with the older material. This album saw Of Montreal bring more energy to stage than when touring for 'Paralytic Stalks,' and more congruency than on the 'False Priest' tour. Whether the enlightening presence of Cash has breathed a fresh breath of air back into the band, or if Barnes has found a new realm of happiness is yet to be seen. For now, enjoy this version of Of Montreal while it is here, and to relive the past versions catch the rockumentary "The Past Is A Grotesuqe Animal" when it hits theaters in June.