Of Montreal, from Athens, Georgia, returns with “Skeletal Lamping,” the band’s ninth album. Stylistically, it has much in common with its last album, “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” from it’s sing-speak vocals, disco aesthetics and high-pitched harmonies to the stories of front-man Kevin Barnes’s sex-changing alter-ego Georgie Fruit (Barnes’s glam-rock persona invented in ‘Hissing Fauna’). Think of this album as Georgie’s coming-out party.
But I’m not sure which closet Georgie has been in. Barnes’ ambiguous take on sexuality is apparent in the song “For Our Elegant Caste,” where he sings “We can do it soft-core if you want / But you should know I take it both ways.” The ambiguity continues to the end of the album, with Barnes’s lines, “screaming out to you from the depths of this phallocentric tyranny” during the song “Id Engager.”
Unfortunately, some tracks it feels as if Barnes has bitten off more than he can chew. Tracks are too expansive, too changeable and too fragmentary. While this might match up with Georgie’s past, it’s jarring for listeners. At first, it was a little daunting to get through whole tracks on this album. Several, including “Nonpareil of Favor” and “Pastis Warfare,” devolve from dancey, melodic pieces into blurry, reverberating vocal jumbles and beats. It’s like Georgie wasn’t sure whether or not he even wanted to dance at his party.
But overall, the album is still fun. The tracks are catchy, and if you enjoy the more recent Of Montreal Albums, BeeGees-style falsettos or blatantly ambiguous sexuality, you’ll probably dig “Skeletal Lamping.”