There comes a time in every band’s life where scraps are compiled, rarities are unearthed and the infamous compilation is erected. While superfans are enticed by the prospect of new, unreleased material, the rest of the world rolls their collective eyes at what they picture another ploy for cash-strapped musicians. They are skeptical about wrangling in a batch of songs that didn’t cut it for their respective records. Thus is the stage for of Montreal’s first compilation since their unofficial Elephant 6 departure, Daughter of Cloud. Covering 2008 to the present – which includes Skeletal Lamping, False Priest and Paralytic Stalks – the record gives us a magnified look at Georgie Fruit and his equally bizarre escapades.
Be warned, this record is not for the light at heart. of Montreal’s variation of sexed-up-psychedelic-freak-funk is as prevalent on this compilation as ever, if not more. Many a critic cite this evolution as their ultimate demise, deviating too far away from Elephant 6 and focusing more on frontman Kevin Barnes. However, I find it to play directly into their strengths. The group’s ability to remain relevant since 1996 with no signs of slowing is a monumental feat, and throwing in theatrical flair only makes it more enthralling. That being said, this compilation will still challenge even the most devoted fans.
Needless to say, there are some stellar pop gems within the 17 tracks. “Psychotic Feeling” reverts to pop sensibilities found in their earlier records, and Rebecca Cash’s work on “Feminine Effects” has the blogosphere raving about of Montreal’s creative spin on alt-country. However, digging deeper into the record reveals some inexplicable and obscure moments that are equally hard to verbalize.
Major themes throughout the record include psycho-sexuality, vivid imagery and someone’s weaved getting tousled. Like chapters out of a homo-erotic Lynchian collage, the record teeters on the edges of novelty and surrealism. “Steppin’ Out,” for example, starts with what sounds like synthesized steel drums and transitions into heavy panting and date-rapers making macaroni art. Often the blitzkrieg of concepts make an heterogenous mixture that lacks cohesion and prevents the record’s most redeeming qualities to be noticed. This strategy has the ability to work wonders (“Georgie’s Lament” and “Micro University”), but for every zinger there’s a lapse of confusion that is hard to overlook (“Partizan Terminus” and “Hindlopp Stat”).
While this is undeniably one of the stranger releases from of Montreal to date, the compilation status must be factored. It is no surprise B-sides and rarities stray farther from the status quo; this is a major reason why they’re just now being released. Because of this, there is breathing room for the record’s jarring presentation. Daughter of Cloud doesn’t immediately give away its best kept secrets. Instead, it requires listeners to methodically pick apart the record and inspect it at every key change and falsetto voicing. Those who stay the course will find a pleasant batch of tracks to add to the prolific catalog that constitutes of Montreal’s archives.
Top tracks include “Feminine Effects,” “Psychotic Feeling” and “Georgie’s Lament.”
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