I’m on record as being all-in on whatever Of Montreal wants to try. If they want to put out a disco record, I’ll grab my boogie shoes. If Kevin Barnes wants to make a drone record that is literally just a 40-minute track of whirring guitar and bass, I’ve got my wallet out ready to hand over my money. At this point in their career, Of Montreal have pretty much tried everything, so I guess it’s not a huge shock that Lousy With Sylvianbriar is a straightforward folk album (by their standards).
“Fugitive Air” starts the album with the same unbridled enthusiasm we’ve come to expect from Barnes over the past couple records. The lyrics are just as crazy and beautiful and weird as ever, as Barnes sings ” I guess I was his anti-hero, the bitter word upon his lips. I hope I never feel a terror like when you discovered your autonomy had flipped.” The opener is followed by “Obsidian Currents,” a laid back, quiet tune you’ll probably play a lot late at night. A gorgeous song, for sure. However, it is not very indicative of what’s to follow on Lousy With Sylvianbriar.
The first single from the album is “Belle Glade Missionaries,” and this is where the album finds its footing and really takes flight. The band seem to be channeling all of their 60’s influences, with everything from The Kingston Trio and The Monkees to Serge Gainsbrough finding its place in the music. The most interesting factor, to me anyway, is how heavily Barnes is borrowing from Dylan. I never would have imagined Of Montreal doing an album like this. It’s almost like their version of Bringing It All Back Home.
To that point, I present “Hegira Emigre.” There’s definitely a “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” vibe coming off this one. Again, Barnes’ lyrics get off the wall while the music maintains a straight up and down blues/rock sound. “If you’re thinking I’m caucasian, well actually I’m gray. I was born on Ash Wednesday and stoned on Christmas Day.” “She gave head til she lost a tooth, that’s what you get for molesting people in a DJ booth.” The songs couldn’t be more different as far as story is concerned, but the manner in which they’re delivered is very similar.
Lousy With Sylvianbriar doesn’t come out for almost a month, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing more songs off the album as we get closer to release date. I can’t say enough good things about it. If you’re one of those people who thinks everything after Skeletal Lamping is garbage may want to check this out. Hopefully it changes your mind and you go back and give False Priest another try. You can pre-order the vinyl, limited to 1500 copies on Sea Glass Green (the bonus here is that it ships 2 weeks before the official release date-a trend I’m starting to see in vinyl purchases).