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Of Montreal at Bataclan Jan. 31

Jayson Harsin (DJay Indie Eclectique) writing for I V Y paris

Montreal Of Montreal, the project of another Athens, Georgia musical genius Kevin Barnes, has been one of the most creative and influential indie pop-rock acts of the last 10 years. From their indie-pop pearl-of-a-debut, Cherry Peel, in 1997, to their recent Skeletal Lamping, they have repeatedly appeared on critics' Best Albums of the Year lists. Their off-kilter pop (sometimes laced with disco and soul influences) will always be too arty for some, sheer genius for others.



Their recent effort Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl) is more nuts than ever--fewer straight up pop strucutres than their highly lauded 2007 album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Songs shift course from an overarching pop structure of predictable verses and refrains, even while they're composed of heavily structured individual pop sequences.

“Wicked Wisdom,” for example, begins with a kind of accelerated synth riff recalling Bowie’s 1980 classic “Fashion,” then moves into something like contemporary R&B, only to move into some bizarre jackbooted rhythm ("Anarchy in the UK"?) to erratic electronic background and a harpsichord spraying notes like an out-of-tune wind chime. A number like “For Our Elegant Caste” puts upbeat falsetto soul-disco vocals over clapping-hand rhythms and synth riffs that recall Hot Chip (if only this were as simple!), until la-la-las and a drum machine fade it out. WTF? Barnes is one of a kind. He can levitate you musically and lyrically, cut the cable on your elevator, or build a dance fire under your ass—all in one song.

But the music is only a part of the live show. Barnes and his troupe have a reputation for equalling their musical virtuosity with a kind of on-stage performance art. Here's a snippet from a concert review in Boston: "the performance featured a three-headed dragon, Darth Vader, a creepy guy in a white body suit slithering around the stage, our fearless leader on a ladder wearing a 10-foot tall dress, and yes, a healthy dose of Barnes' alter-ego, Georgie Fruit (with numerous wardrobe changes)." It's humorous, gender-bending, sexy, perhaps a tad scary, and the music is as avant-garde as pop gets these days.

Bataclan, Jan. 31. Tickets on sale here.

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