Critic's Choice

Of Montreal

Kevin Barnes, the primary instigator behind Of Montreal, Saturday, May 12, at the 15th Street Tavern, says that the act's latest disc, the succinctly titled Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse, is a concept recording, and there's no reason to doubt him. After all, the CD's lyrics are filled with references to characters with vivid names, including Mr. Edminton, Mimi Merlot and Detective Dullight, whose surreal adventures ("He climbed into the tub wearing his underwear and overcoat, jumped aboard the model boat and followed the water down the drain...") are recapped in a largely spoken piece that suggests a friendly collaboration between Donovan and Firesign Theatre. Yet those who are able to commit several months to plumbing the disc's narrative depths will likely emerge from this experience with no greater understanding of the notions that tie it together than they had after spin number one. A wiser course of action would be to simply sit back and enjoy the act's exceedingly curious, but eminently likable, assemblage of college-pop melodicism, skewed music-hall throwbacks, sunny harmonies, offhand psychedelia and plain ol' weirdness -- like the album-closing "The Hopeless Opus of the Great Battle of the Unfriendly Ridiculous," whose principal lyrics don't arrive until it's been going for around fourteen minutes. Taking hallucinogens before attending Of Montreal's upcoming show, with Marshmallow Coast and Breezy Porticos, isn't necessary, because listening to the band will make most attendees feel as if they already did. And pleasantly so.

 
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