Kevin Barnes is one of the finest pop craftsmen in the business and it’s precisely because he—and his band, of Montreal—doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules. From the tricked out cover art designed by Barnes’ wife and his brother to guest vocalists Solange Knowles and Janelle Monae to the hybrid of the heartfelt and the humorous, False Priest is one of the year’s most indispensable releases.
The Athens, Georgia based quintet follows up the seminal releases of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and Skeletal Lamping with a bristling collection of tracks mixing Barnes’ brand of psychedelia with R&B influences and a heady dose of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Recorded by Barnes, the album passed through the studio of Jon Brion for re-mixing, mastering and engineering. The resulting album unfolds with confessions and accusations, and the identity of False Priest becomes more complicated. As Barnes seems to get closer, he admits things like “How I won’t forget how you kissed me” (from “Coquet Coquette”). However, he is quick with lamentations like, “You’ve ruined me / You’re a terrorist / I’m a casualty of you” (on “Casualty of You”). Ever the weirdo/genius provocateur, Barnes can deadpan ridiculous lines about a crush on a husky-voiced gal (see “Our Riotous Defects”) and just as deftly rev up the charm with dazzling sing-a-long choruses and spacey flights of fancy.
Lyrics pop, beats bump and as Barnes spills his heart, this is the closest he comes to us mere mortals than on any other previous record. Even though love and religion may be his False Priest, Barnes can’t escape their torrid ties, and despite the struggle being a lost cause, there is much cause to rejoice on of Montreal’s tenth album.