Kevin Barnes’ tendencies toward the vainglorious—his sojourns into wonky white-boy soul-funk, for example—served Of Montreal well on 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, since that terrific concept album told of the singer’s transmutation into a flamboyant glam-pop star. On follow-up Skeletal Lamping, it sounds as if Barnes’ reality/fiction line has blurred so much, he actually believes he has become the character he created.
Lamping drips, almost literally, with sexuality, never missing a lyrical opportunity to titillate. But where the couplet “We can do it soft-core if you want/But you should know I take it both ways” (“For Our Elegant Caste”) actually advances the plot, lines like “I wanna make you come 200 times a day” (“Gallery Piece”) or “Wanna make you ejaculate till it’s no longer fun” (“Plastis Wafer”) serve only to startle, and only the first time through at that.
Worse are the disc’s musical atrocities, surprisingly abundant given the fluid Fauna’s song-to-song consistency. This time, we get a dreadful spoken dialogue midway through one track—“‘How will you know it was me?’/‘Do you think I’ve got caller ID?’” (“Triphallus, to Punctuate!”)—and a sleek disco number that devolves, awkwardly, into psychedelia over its seven-plus minutes. Not to mention, Barnes revises his funk-soul role far too often to endure (“St. Exquisite’s Confessions” being just one egregious example of his obvious Prince idolization).
Lamping lays out a few neat tricks; see the “When we get together, it’s always hot magic” breakdown in “Wicked Wisdom” and the roller rink-y tour-de-pop “An Eluardian Instance.” But on the whole, the album will leave most listeners daydreaming—about a return to the headier substance of Fauna, rather than, well, the stuff Barnes meant for them to fantasize about.