Of Montreal

Of Montreal

The Gay Parade

Bar/None

If there is one big problem with the collective of bands known as the Elephant 6, it’s that the musical inbreeding and member cross-pollination threatens to render the individual bands indistinguishable from one another.

Of Montreal might be the prime example of this. The “marchers” on the album (those who played on it) number 19, a good number of which are members of other Elephant 6 bands such as Elf Power, Music Tapes, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Of Montreal has always been the child-like sweet voice of the collective, with their infectious songs reflecting the Beatles, Brian Wilson and French pop sounds. Their Bar None debut, Cherry Peel , seemed a simple album graced with lovely, catchy pop songs that give the band their irresistible charm. Unfortunately, The Gay Parade seems in many places like a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. There’s a lot going on in some songs — weird noises, choruses of many people, strange instrumentation — that doesn’t seem to really fit Of Montreal’s real style.

I can’t help but think that the problem is one of proximity. The entire album’s theme — essentially a concept album telling the stories like floats passing in a parade — seems rather lifted out of something that Olivia Tremor Control or Elf Power would do with their imaginary character development.

The Gay Parade is a collage of songs that doesn’t feel like an album. It splinters in places as it lurches and veers through some songs that feature far too many sounds and styles. Of Montreal used to write an album’s worth of great pop songs. This time around, they have written some great pop songs (“Fun Loving Nun,” “Jaques Lemure,” “The Miniature Philosopher”) interspersed between mediocre ones that tend to be have far too many annoying add-ins.

Of Montreal was better served by the less is more philosophy. Hopefully, they’ll jettison some of the fluff and get back to the simple songs that served them better in the past.

Bar None Records, P.O. Box 1704, Hoboken, NJ 07030, www.bar-none.com

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