The Gay Parade
How Athens' Of Montreal manages to compose, arrange, record and produce albums of this magnitude, one a year, is a mystery that I can't comprehend, like how a black hole has a mass greater than our sun but a volume smaller than a dust mote. Still, I'm grateful for Kevin Barnes' glorious pop tunes, and the large cast (I count 17 listed explicitly, with another passel as the "Nickee Coco Singers") for somehow pulling it off. Among the names I recognize are Julian Koster (Miss America aka Chocolate USA) and Josh McKay (Macha).
Musically, Of Montreal integrates a lot of classic pop ideas from the Beatles and the Beach Boys (and many others, I'm sure) into a sort of acoustic-flavored stew. The richly textured compositions defy explanation, and the variety of instruments and uses for them is staggering. The lyrics often sound like internal monologues, examinations of feelings and dreams, while the music exists in a plane perpendicular to both pop and Dixieland. The combination is a unique and engrossing experience. Headphones recommended.
Bar/None Records, P.O. Box 1704, Hoboken, NJ 07030; http://www.bar-none.com