Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 26 Jan
Although Athens-based concept-poppers Of Montreal have been active for over a decade now, their ninth and latest album Skeletal Lamping has seen the group reach their highest watermark yet. The record was a top forty entry in America, and the group’s singer and creator Kevin Barnes spoke to The List from New York, the night before his band played Letterman’s Late Show. Understandably, he was, ‘psyched’; adding, ‘it should be a lot of fun’.
It was fun, in the event, with Barnes emerging from a low-budget golden chariot at the start, various performers creating a papier maché dancing giant in the background and Dave looking suitably nonplussed by the end. This wasn’t an excessive affair by Of Montreal’s usual standards, though. ‘Our live show’s very theatrical,’ says Barnes, ‘very glammy. We play with gender-bending; we’ll wear masculine clothes alongside feminine ones and take on the roles of different characters. It’s not that we do it to be polarising though, it just feels good to play around with these things’.
The same aesthetic applies to the band’s music, with Barnes now presiding over a quintet (although their line-up has altered over the years) who play a genre-crunching blend of indie-pop, punk-funk and disco that lies somewhere between Talking Heads, Sylvester and The Magnetic Fields. ‘We’ve made a kind of pop collage record,’ says Barnes of Skeletal Lamping, ‘which is basically one long composition with a bunch of different medleys. That fragmented style of arranging isn’t new to us, and neither are the album’s themes – it’s about gender roles, about sexual politics and identities, and all of this feeds together with the live show’.