Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal’s eccentric-to-say-the-least singer is probably more famous for getting his willy out on stage last year than for his utterly compelling pop music, over-literate but heartrending lyrics and colourful charisma (well, maybe whipping it out in front of a Las Vegas crowd is a sign of frontman magnetism). Last year’s relationship-break-up/mental-breakdown masterpiece Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer was undoubtedly one of 2007’s most exciting musical moments, merging the darkest of depressions with the brightest of pop hooks. Unfortunately, newcomers brought to Skeletal Lamping via the burgeoning popularity of OM’s diluted protegé’s MGMT may find themselves confronted once more with the image of Kevin Barnes swinging his dick and strutting about like an, erm, cock.
Skeletal Lamping is the aural equivalent of a band jogging out a victory lap for those still fauning over Fauna. While Psychic TV’s cover of ‘Good Vibrations’ still pretty much sums up the Georgia, Athens band’s sonic template, their mastery of pop song structure is thrown into the pile of disused Kleenex on this latest offering. Each hook is abandoned halfway through, the foetuses of ideas left on lab petri dishes. A more irritating fault of the album is Barnes attempts to play the provacateur, seemingly with the goal of making listeners blush a little at the exploits of his transexual alter-ego, Georgie Fruit. It’s a fumbled shot at exhibitionism, less Genesis P’Orridge and more Lily Savage with a few too martinis.
If this was all a trade-off for moments of divine transcendence as available on the band’s best songs (Rapture Rapes The Muses, Suffer For Fashion and So Begins Our Alabee) the peacock posturing might just succed, but alas the Athenian band are sat firmly at the rocky bottom of Mount Olympus on this album, and not at the acme munching on ambrosia. A little self-indulgence is always welcome from successful artists (for an example of how to get glammed-up egoism right just see Andre 3000’s Hey Ya), but when it produces such an uncohesive irritant of an LP as Skeletal Lamping you can only hope Barnes reads the bad reviews this time around.
See also: Prince- Sign O’ The Times [WEA]