During the closing moments of 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
, bandleader Kevin Barnes introduced his alter ego, an effeminate singer by the name of Georgie Fruit. One year later, that character runs amok on Skeletal Lamping
, having wrenched the spotlight away from Barnes' sugary pop and trained it on an ambitious hybrid of glam rock, experimental R&B, and Scissor Sisters
-styled sex-funk. Barnes sounds truly uninhibited under the Fruit guise, making declarations like "I'm just a black she-male!" with flamboyant confidence. Such a shift in direction marks Of Montreal
's ascent into the psychedelic clouds where Ziggy Stardust once flew, only this time, the listener catches a ride on the back of a transgendered Prince
fanatic whose songs are fragmented and confusing, yet still peppered with irresistible hooks. Like the album's cover art (an origami-influenced billfold whose flaps unfurl to form a giant
floral display), Skeletal Lamping
demands attention by being purposely puzzling. The music is extravagant and elaborate; each song is comprised of multiple vignettes, many of them completely different in style, and each track spills into the next. It's interesting to watch the pieces fit together -- to pinpoint the exact second where one song ends and another one begins. But whether or not you enjoy Skeletal Lamping
depends on your tolerance for unchecked ambition and left-field experimentation, both of which are emphasized here. Of Montreal
have rarely sounded so free, so unrestrained, but this is a love-it-or-lump-it album, a polarizing effort that -- depending on personal preference -- is either irresistibly attractive or overzealously pretentious.