Coming off the critically shrugged (and guest-laden) pop piece False Priest, local heroes of Montreal return with their most adventurous material yet. Experimental and often atonal, of Montreal's 11th is a difficult record that is sure to polarize many, while delighting those who take a more considered listen.
Split into two distinct halves, Paralytic Stalks combines the sort of warped pop-synth-psych bric-a-brac that fans will find familiar with another side of frenetic, discordant and frequently formless freak-outs in the seven- to 14-minute range. It’s a knotty, noisy mess; but it somehow—almost impossibly—comes off as cohesive and well produced. Big props go out to new hires Drew Vandenberg, producer; woodwind worker Zac Colwell; and string-theory everything player Kishi Bashi for making it work.
In many ways, Paralytic Stalks is a refinement of late-era of Montreal histrionics. Skeletal Lamping’s schizoid attention span is more seamless. Hissing Fauna’s dark confession-booth bop is even more insular. Frontman Kevin Barnes even discards his daisy chain gang of alter egos and merry pranksters.
It makes for an exhilarating listen. By boldly experimenting with new sounds, keeping what works and trimming the fat, of Montreal has built its best record in years: a bitter, angry and yet frequently transcendent sound poem to the Eames-chair shrink.