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Album Review
Paralytic Stalks

Paralytic Stalks
by Of Montreal


Review Date
22nd February 2012
Reviewed by
Jennifer Kirby

Dark, at times difficult and featuring complex orchestrations and intricate arrangements, the new album by the critically lauded band Of Montreal exudes ambition. For the most part, the band pull it off to produce a record that is endlessly fascinating and which continues to surprise and delight with its unpredictable tonal shifts and unique blend of classical and electronic instruments to the very last note.

This collection of songs is nothing if not epic. A single track will often feature multiple sections that career between portions of beauty and softness with just piano or guitar, moments of orchestral flourish complete with violins and wind instruments and oppressive atonal electronica. The thematic material matches the music for ambition and substance as Of Montreal tackle some weighty subjects in their highly literate lyrics such as religion (Wintered Debts), the all-consuming human desire for revenge spanning generations (Ye, Renew the Plaintiff) and the inhumanity of the modern economic world (Excorsismic Breeding Knife).

Despite and in contrast to some surprisingly jaunty and danceable melodies which at times veer close to dance music (especially on the tuneful 'Dour Percentage' and the at times strongly melodic 'We Will Commit Wolf Murder'), the lyrics tend to be fairly dark, exploring destructive impulses, loss of faith and self-loathing. As a result Paralytic Stalks is far from a walk in the park, yet the honesty and immediacy of some of the more confessional lyrics is intriguing and the sheer scale of the music helps to give the songs a grand feel and imply that they are making a wider comment on humanity or society as well as telling a personal emotional narrative.

Outside of the likes of Radiohead, it is hard to think of a band with a more striking sound. The album is highly idiosyncratic and as such may prove somewhat inaccessible on first listen, but if you stick with it, you will find that it rewards multiple and attentive listens. Paralytic Stalks is truly a fine album.


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