Monday, July 17

Judging by the Cover: Of Montreal

My name is Stacey Capoot. As an introduction, my column will review albums I bought because I thought the cover art looked cool. I will then decide whether or not I think that what is on the inside is as good as what is on the outside. As a disclaimer, I will probably be reviewing artists I have at least heard of before, so don’t expect reviews of a bunch of random $1.99 CDs I picked up at the used music store. Hope you enjoy my reviews!

"Colquelicot Asleep in the Poppies..."
Kindercore; 2001

There are two main points that came to mind when I started listening to this album: (1) Of Montreal listens to the Beatles. A lot. (2) I really love listening to this CD, so I don’t really care. This is probably the best seven dollars I have spent in a very long time (I admit, I bought it used because I am a cheapskate). As soon as I put this in my car stereo, it immediately put me in a good mood. It is this fact that, I feel, redeems it from its obvious “Magical Mystery” influences. Then again, who doesn’t love “Magical Mystery Tour”?

Before buying “Colquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse”, I had only heard part of one Of Monreal song, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by their commitment to a combination of silliness, romance, and fine musicianship. The album is what the early part of the century would have sounded like on drugs with a little bit of electric guitar, and of course, the presence of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

On that note, I think it is important to address my Beatles comparisons. The album definitely invokes the style of tracks like “Martha My Dear”, “Magical Mystery Tour”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” Their sweetly sung, but occasionally twisted, lyrics are reminiscent of the more chemically-enhanced Beatles era, particularly bringing to mind the perverse “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and the sweetly awkward “Lovely Rita.” To support this point with an anectdote, my boss walked over to my desk while I was listening to the CD, and suddenly started talking about how his daughter loves “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. I think that speaks for itself.

Point aside, I have been listening to this album continuously for about a week now, and I am not even vaguely sick of it. It makes driving to La Mesa a pleasant experience. [Editor’s Note: For those of you unfamiliar with southern California, driving to La Mesa sucks.] “Colquelicot Asleep” is a departure from reality, with its stories of endearingly peculiar characters told against the backdrop of some of the loveliest violins, horns, pianos, and falsettos that I’ve ever heard recorded on a pop album. The lead singer’s pure tenor voice brings merriment and sincerity to even the strangest lyrics on the album. When he croons about powdering his nose while the lovely Rose Robert draws on her mustache, or when Mimi Merlot drugs the shocked Manuel and locks him in a wardrobe and covers it with aluminum foil, I was hardly even weirded out. Of Montreal effortlessly transitions between these tunes and more standard love songs without seemingly like they’re trying too hard on either.

If I had to pick a favorite track on the album, it would definitely be “Let’s Do Everything for the First Time”: “Will you kiss me again so I can pretend we’re kissing for the first time? / Because when we kissed for the first time I was distracted.” Musically, it’s beautiful—it sounds like a hug. It’s stuck in my head all day long, and it’s the kind of lyrical composition that every girl wishes was written for her. I absolutely love it. It is probably one of the most normal songs on the album, and I think it proves that Of Montreal can stand alone on their talent for songwriting and orchestration without having to sing about three-legged hyena-cicadas to get attention. (This is not to say that I don’t enjoy the discussion of three-legged hyena cicadas. I do. Especially when they are devouring small children.) A couple of my other favorite tracks include “Mimi Merlot”, “Rose Robert”, and “Butterscotching Mr. Lynn.”

The only complaint I have about the album is the narrative track entitled “The Events Leading up to the Collapse of Detective Dulllight.” It has no music and has something to do with detectives and butterflies. It makes absolutely no sense, and I think it’s the only point on the album where Of Montreal is stretching it just a little too far. There is one line sung on the track through a phone—“Excuse me are you So-and-so? Well So-and-so since you left I have been eating only sweets cuz they remind me of you.” I wish so very much that they had turned that pretty little line into a full song instead of inserting in the middle of this pointless story. It was interesting to listen to the first time, but now I just skip over it. Thanks to the forward button, this little problem can be easily corrected.

I am thankful that what was inside the CD was even better than what was on the outside. “Colquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse” is a delight to listen to, and I recommend it to anyone who is able to derive any kind of joy from a musical recording. Until next time, it really is what’s on the inside that counts.

Of Montreal - Let's Do Everything For the First Time Forever
Of Montreal - Mimi Merlot

- Stacey Capoot -

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