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Of Montreal: The Absurd And The Sparkly

When diving into Of Montreal's new Skeletal Lamping, it might help to know that singer Kevin Barnes has written the lyrics from the point of view of a black ex-con after multiple sex changes — or, then again, maybe that's entirely too much information. Whatever the source material, Of Montreal's fame has its roots in the absurd, the sparkly (as in stage makeup), and in the offbeat and partly made-up vocabulary that litters its music.

"Nonpareil of Favor" — meaning either "an individual of unequaled excellence" or "a small flat disk of chocolate covered with white sugar pellets" — is the closest thing to a single on Skeletal Lamping, and also the closest thing to a love song. By pop standards, it's an odd track: Grating guitar and dissonant melodies challenge even the cute, upbeat moments, and it can't quite seem to decide on just one tempo or key. Of Montreal doesn't pretend to espouse the principles of traditional rock music, but if it did, we wouldn't get such strangely vivid pictures of bizarre relationships, or lines such as, "I'm so flung out by your paradigm kisses / How I've acted 11 hemispherical gods now / Cracking my sweet love."

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Afton Woodward