Artist: Of Montreal
Title: Paralytic Stalks
Record Label: Polyvinyl
American indie rockers Of Montreal are releasing their eleventh album titled Paralytic Stalks.Not surprisingly the Elephant 6 band’s sound has really gone through some stylistic changes since their first release in 1997, and this release is a dense, dark and personal recording.
Also no surprise – the band’s line up has changed a little too. The current line up consists of lead singer-songwriter and founding member Kevin Barnes along with seven other members most of which also have their own side projects as well. The album was recorded in Barnes’ personal studio and was engineered at Chase Park Transduction by Drew Vandenberg (Deerhunter, Best Coast, Magnapop). For the first time in the band’s history, they feature hired session musicians for the recording and also brought in new member Zac Colwell on horn and flute.
The album opens with the wall of noise that is Gelid Ascent which sets the experimental tone for the rest of the album. Spiteful Intervention brings the anger and darkness to the forefront as Barnes sings “It’s fucking sad that we need a tragedy to occur to gain a fresh perspective in our lives, nothing happens for a reason there’s no point even pretending”.
The album ends with four longer songs all over seven minutes long, they are filled with experimental interludes, strings and piano provide waves of ambience. Wintered Debts is a sad song with the lyrics contrasting with the las and oohs that comes in mid song. Barnes sings “can’t survive another come down day when the spirit houses so much pain, so much bitterness, so much bitterness” and “I need to teach myself to feel again” before a revealing low
point; “slipping on my own vomit whilst trying to call you from my bathroom”. The song end is an instrumental climax.
Exorcismic Breeding Knife is a brooding mesh of experimental sounds with Barnes’ altered voice coming in softly now and again. Final track Authentic Pyrrhic Remission is an eleven minute wonder filled with drum beats, high pitched vocals and a generally more positive vibe.The album is definitely more experimental than the catchier indie sounds and choruses of Requiem for O.M.M.2 or Forecast Fascist Future from The Sunlandic Twins album for example. And that’s not a bad thing, the album is revealing and emotionally charged – but Paralytic Stalks is an album that might take a few listens to get in to.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.