16 February 2013

16th Feb - Of Montreal's The Gay Parade

Artist – Album: Of Montreal – The Gay Parade
Released:  16th February 1999    
Sounds Like: Lo-fi, indie 60’s

I first came across Of Montreal about five years ago, when they released the phenomenal album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? That effort was a moody, challenging record, born of lead singer and chief songwriter Kevin Barnes’ recent separation with his wife and the paranoia inducing antidepressants that he was taking. It’s a brilliant album – I would’ve written about it already if it hadn’t shared a birthday with the peerless David Bowie album Station to Station – but it’s also emotionally draining, leaden with crunching synths and 12 minute long rants. In absolutely no way did it prepare me for the colourful psychedelia and whimsy of The Gay Parade, released 9 years and 5 albums earlier.

The Gay Parade has actually been compared with Sgt Peppers, which should give you some measure of its achievement.  It’s true that there are similar elements: the enchanting mixture of psychedelic rock and music hall, the celebration of the everyday and the sketching of absurdist cartoon characters (try ‘Tulip Baroo’ and ‘Jacques Lamure’), the effervescent melodies and intertwining harmonies, even the reference to marching in the near title track ‘The March of the Gay Parade’. For me, I could hear elements of The Kinks’ The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, in the wonderfully realised vignettes of the otherwise mundane such as ‘Neat Little Domestic Life’. Some of the poppier moments and great hooks recalled The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, with the opening piano of ‘Old Familiar Ways’ feeling like it may have been lifted straight from a Rod Argent b-side. The spoken word outro made me think of the Beach Boys.

Regardless of who or what they sound like most, there’s no denying that that is an impressive list of (almost-)equivalents. It may not strike you on first listen, but, given time and patience, The Gay Parade can live up to the billing.  

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Old Familiar Ways – 2:25
2.       Fun Loving Nun – 2:17
3.       Tulip Baroo – 2:10
4.       Jacques Lamure – 2:31
5.       The March of the Gay Parade – 2:55
6.       Neat Little Domestic Life – 2:45
7.       A Collection of Poems About Water – 3:57
8.       Y the Quale and Vaguely Bird Noisily Enjoying Their Forbidden Tryst/ I’d Be a Yellow Feathered Loon – 2:40
9.       The Autobiographical Grandpa – 2:19
10.   The Miniature Philosopher – 1:54
11.   My Friend Will Be Me – 3:54
12.   My Favorite Boxer – 3:01
13.   Advice from a Divorced Gentleman to His Bachelor Friend Considering Marriage – 2:08
14.   A Man’s Life Flashing Before His Eyes While He and His Wife Drive Off a Cliff into the Ocean – 3:04
15.   Nickee Coco and the Invisible Tree – 5:21
16.   The Gay Parade Outro – 0:47

Listen to ‘My Favorite Boxer’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhiPID4ttOE

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