No one knows how to make it go pop like Of Montreal nowadays. I enjoyed the odd OM song before, but this new disco infused agenda of theirs fits the music perfectly. Who knew polyrhythmic beats would combine with their cutesy indie pop so well? The layered electronics? I love it all. Satanic Panic in the Attic is the album that really broke new ground for the band and The Sunlandic Twins continues with this new template, ushering in more of the same pure pop bliss. So why then, has mine and everyone else’s favorite indie zine taken a shit on the album? One of my favorite reviewers from Pitchfork Media’s team is Sam Ubl, however I suspect he has become a tad jaded. He rightly acknowledged the breakthrough that occurred within the band for Satanic Panic yet in his review for this album he pans them. Now, don’t stop reading because you know what the almighty thinks of this record, because I’m about to stand up for it like David to Goliath.
I’ll admit right off the bat that some of the electronic departures on the second half of this disc are slightly trying, but are in no way terrible. I can forgive these minor asides because the music on 90% of this disc is some of the catchiest I’ve heard all year. The first half of The Sunlandic Twins is dripping in sonic sweetness. In fact, the first real downer is the 10th track, “Death of a Shade of a Hue.” After that things remain stale compared to the earlier songs. However, this is almost completely because songs 1 - 9 are some of David Barnes’ best yet. I feel that Sam was unfair because he seemed almost insulted that Of Montreal decided to experiment a little on the second half of this record, and I quote:
“…with such a skilled songwriter at the helm, they should be making great records, checking the conceptual dalliances at the door.”
You hear that guys—don’t you dare try anything besides standard perfect pop songs. Don’t you dare. Ok, so now that this bullshit criticism of the record has been addressed, on to the good stuff!
Opener “Requiem for O.M.M.2” is so uplifting I want to explode. “I Was Never Young” begins with Talking Heads-ish chanting and develops into a Talking Heads song (minus the Spanish horn section)—just picture David Byrne singing the lyrics and you’ll see what I mean. “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” bounces along with its fluid bass line and soft stuttering percussion, featuring a creepy yet oddly sweet chorus; “Let’s pretend we don’t exist / let’s pretend we’re in an article.” After this come two of the bands experiments and another 4 great pop songs; “So Begins Our Alabee” one of my favorites among them. Of Montreal seem to be making the type of music that jaded hipsters can rarely embrace; we have our grime, our shoegaze, our folk, but only once in a blue moon are we able to obsess over ridiculously sweet melodies and embrace the indie funk. Listening to the record again while writing this review, I realize I haven’t enjoyed melody this much since the Talking Heads, albeit with more of a pop-rock leaning. Just check the names. David Barnes / Davide Byrne. What do you think? Hmmm? And please don’t get confused: the bands have nothing to do with each other except for musical style and aesthetic alone. But what a fine style it is.
If you already have Black Mountain and need some more beginning-of-summer music, you can do no wrong if you pick up The Sunlandic Twins. I want to have a barbeque and cruise with the windows down just thinking about it.
- Andrew Iliadis
/may 1st 2005/