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Aural Pleasure

Of Montreal: 'Paralytic Stalks'

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On Of Montreal's last full length (2010's False Priest) there was a moment when the oversexed funk let up for an emotionally arresting (and dissonant) piano-and-strings ballad. It hinted at some sort of dark new vision brewing underneath the surface of Kevin Barnes' perpetual party. Well, that vision has fully arrived, and what a beautifully grand and twisted apparition it is. Paralytic Stalks is unlike any other Of Montreal record. It shows the effects of modernist classical music on Barnes' schizophrenic pop by incorporating dense orchestration and cathartic electronics into the mix. Quite frankly, this record has so many incredible moments on it an entire dissertation could be filled trying to address them all. Highlights include Barnes' riveting vocals and the way these songs slip in and out of noisy insanity and pure pop bliss (see "We Will Commit Wolf Murder" and "Malefic Dowry" for evidence). All you need to know is that Paralytic Stalks is not only one of Barnes' best records, but also one of the best albums in recent years. It's a musically and emotionally bold work that builds upon Barnes' craft and creates something strikingly original in the process.

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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