Of Montreal

Aldhils Arboretum

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Intended as an "album of singles" in favor of diminishing their normal proclivities toward conceptual grandiosity and musical adventurousness, Aldhils Arboretum marks a peculiar change of pace for Elephant 6's most prolific popsters. About six songs and 20 minutes shorter than the average Of Montreal outing, the band manages to retain a good deal of their trademark zaniness while producing what might be their most focused and polished work. In fact, the band has never sounded stronger instrumentally as a straightforward retro-rock unit. Big ringing keyboards and wild veering guitar lines color unshakable ear candy like "Doing Nothing" and "Jennifer Louise," both tracks that rank among their most catchy, if not the most innovative, in their extensive catalog. Of course, Kevin Barnes still indulges a bit in his tendency toward obscurely surreal narrative, with both "The Blank Husband Epidemic" and "An Ode to the Nocturnal Muse" being unpredictably odd ventures into his unique imagination. Further, even though the intricately playful nature of some of their best songwriting is somewhat muted, Barnes does manage to extend his reputation for gorgeously florid balladry on a few tracks. All in all, even though they don't have an overarching concept to rest under, the set of songs present is undeniably strong and ultimately stamped with all of the important elements that make Of Montreal's brand of psychedelic pop so exemplary.

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