Hey, psych majors: This album’s for you! Of Montreal’s latest LP, Paralytic Stalks, is almost an hour’s worth of Kevin Barnes singing, chatting, chanting and shrieking about his bouts of depression. Enjoy!

of Montreal

Paralytic Stalks
Polyvinyl


Of Montreal fans can’t say they didn’t see this coming. Now on its 11th LP, the band has evolved into a more discordant and overall freakier group. Its last album, False Priest, ended with a seven-minute outburst that started off funky, became disturbing and concluded with a cautionary message on religion, which seems to foreshadow the emotional tangle found in the band’s newest LP.

Paralytic Stalks simply continues the frenzied gloom that had been seeping into of Montreal’s past work. The first track, “Gelid Ascent,” begins with unspecified, ghoulish noises that eventually erupt into a continuation of the religious meditation begun in False Priest. The subsequent track, “Spiteful Intervention,” has a less morose but similarly humorless tone. Accompanied by a frantic interlude of carnival melodies, Barnes discusses issues with a self-loathing he can never seem to escape that result in “psychotic vitriols” and “manic energy.”

Unlike his past creations, Barnes speaks candidly in Paralytic Stalks, writing in the first person and completely abandoning his alter-ego Georgie Fruit (an African-American man in his forties who has undergone multiple sex changes). Instead, this album serves as a form of personal catharsis for the singer — a canvas onto which he has slung every thought that comes to mind. This causes Paralytic Stalks to lack melodic continuity, constantly shifting to convey the unpredictable nature of Barnes’s emotional landscape.

The album ends up scatterbrained with “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission,” a 13-minute collage that involves Barnes claiming his depression is under control, instantly refuting the statement and eventually ending with his dream of a nationless, ego-free world. The album’s second-to-last track, “Exorcismic Breeding Knife,” is a song only by loose standards — almost eight minutes of choral “ah’s,” orchestral divergences and menacing sound effects.

Most songs off of Paralytic Stalks, however, remain somewhat coherent. “Dour Percentage” is a laid-back, flute-filled nod to the disco era and “Malefic Dowery” is a sunny, tropical ditty. They sound melodic and dreamy, and they feature classic of Montreal falsetto and funk, but damn it Barnes is at it again, rambling on about torment and hostility. “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” is another track that has a smoother, more easy-going tone, but throughout the song, Barnes slips in little warnings of “there’s blood in my hair.” In the last couple minutes of the song, Barnes seems fed up, ending with a thrashing spurt of electronic gibberish while he repeats his blood-related complaint and finally saying, “fuck.”

It’s understandable if you put off listening to Paralytic Stalks. The album is taxing on the ears and brain — even longtime of Montreal fans may be reluctant to sit through Barnes’s disjointed rant about infinite anguishes and frustrations. But while the album doesn’t exactly end on a positive note (honestly, just skip the last track), it has its moments of mental and musical clarity. Paralytic Stalks isn’t an album you’re going to find on the radio, but embracing it with an open mind grants the opportunity to explore the various mental states of a colorful character.

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