of Montreal: False Priest (Polyvinyl) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 26th, 2020  

of Montreal

False Priest

Polyvinyl

Sep 17, 2010 Issue #32 - Summer 2010 - Wasted on the Youth Bookmark and Share


“You fetishistize the archetype,” of Montreal ringleader Kevin Barnes chides on track “Like a Tourist.” Perhaps he’s scolding himself. On False Priest, Barnes once again calls on the cabaret king archetype he’s carefully constructed over the past nine albums, inhabiting the role of glitter-dipped, master of ceremonies with the ease of an old shirt. While lower energy than many of his previous works, the R&B-inspired romp goes down as smooth as a post-coital cigarette after Skeletal Lamping’s jittery sex-fuelled fumble. Still, it would have been interesting to see the places False Priest would have traveled had Barnes let his inner Funkadelic truly call the shots, as he hinted he would in interviews. Instead, he’s settled for another solid turn around the Technolocolor dance floor, albeit one polished to an appealing sheen by producer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Spoon).

Up-tempo tracks—as per of Montreal tradition—fair best. Dancing though over-the-top tales of drug use with a “Girl Named Hello,” name checking both Annie Hall and Ali Mcgraw, or taking time to “Salute your bust-a-rhymeness,” Barnes expertly toes the line between ennui and extravagance, never once winking. The problem is, his persona is so all consuming that when it comes to False Priest’s slower tracks, such as “Casualty of You,” or dreadfully dull album closer “You Do Mutilate,” it’s difficult to tell exactly where Barnes stands. Is he trying to seduce or simply evoke a tongue-in-cheek cliché? It’s hard to approximate sincerity with sparkles in your eyes.

What one cannot fault Barnes for is his superb choice in dance partners. Solange Knowles’ matches Barnes, squeak for seductive squeak on already brimming at the seams  “Sex Karma.” Meanwhile Janelle Monae’s husky croon is heavily featured in “Enemy Gene” and feted on the superb spoken word choruses of “Our Riotous Defects.” Having finally met his matches, Barnes is forced to stretch, finally bringing something unexpected to the party. (www.ofmontreal.net)

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