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From drug-informed twee ’60s pop to the most caucasian strains of white-boy electronic funk, Of Montreal have been relentlessly adding to their unwieldy discography since 1997. Essentially a solo recording artist, Kevin Barnes brings his costumed theatre troupe of a support band to Rio in promotion of his latest album – and Of Montreal’s 11th – Paralytic Stalks.
Rife with desperate vocals layered with Barnes’s trademark high-register backing harmonies, the newest collection follows Of Montreal’s pattern of genre experimentation (repetitive skipping, atonal synths, melodic flutes), off-putting song titles (‘Ye, Renew the Plaintiff’, ‘Exorcismic Breeding Knife’) and a few impressively long track times, like the 13-minute closer that passes from dance-pop to high-frequency droning to ballad. The songs’ irregularities are their most alluring features, no matter how confusing those choices sound.
Although he’s often intentionally obscure, it’s hard to call Barnes mysterious when his confessional songs detail his personal life down to the molecular level. But the Athens, Georgia musician’s image as an outsider art-styled glam rocker intrigues, eliciting David Bowie comparisons. This is especially true since 2007, when Barnes had a Ziggy Stardust-like transformation, taking on the invented persona of a two-time sex-changed R&B singer named Georgie Fruit. And while the solid record Paralytic Stalks never gets as outré as all that, the show should prove weird enough for fans aching to see a visionary pull other strange rabbits out of a really odd hat.