On 2005's The Sunlandic Twins, Of Montreal's guiding light Kevin Barnes created a sophisticated, recklessly indulgent pomp-pop that brought to mind the more top-heavy offerings of Queen and Todd Rundgren. Recorded after a testing time that saw Barnes become a father, emigrate to Oslo, return to Athens, Georgia, and separate and reconcile with his partner, this follow-up holds fast to his extravagant musical vision while his emotional travails seep into the lyrics, staining songs with perplexed lines like "Sometimes I wonder if you're mythologising me like I do you". At best, on the opening "Suffer For Fashion" and the 12-minute tour de force "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal", the result is Sparks-y clever-dick pop, with Barnes's slightly shrill vocals preening over cheap electric organ and bustling percussion. Elsewhere, the funky "Gronlandic Edit" and "Labyrinthian Pomp" recall Sly Stone and Prince, but Barnes lacks their instinct for allowing an idea room to breathe, loading his arrangements. But the charm of his melodies and some backings ultimately prove too engaging to dislike.
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