"In the nineties and early aughts, Barnes was roughly in step with his friends in a musical collective called Elephant 6. Along with bands like Elf Power, Of Montreal drew from several decades of melodic guitar pop, especially the English band XTC, and made rackety, exuberant rock albums."
"Barnes has a high, thin voice that often mimics a falsetto even when he’s not singing falsetto. He could slip seamlessly into the chorus of a Zombies or a Beach Boys record. Pop’s secular boys’ choir is not so removed from the castrato voices of canonical disco acts like the Bee Gees and Sylvester, and Barnes began flirting with derivations of disco in 2005, on the album “The Sunlandic Twins,” with songs like “I Was Never Young” (an uncommonly plain phrase for him) and “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” (much more like it)."
"Barnes pushes at definitions. When he sings, “I’m just a black she-male, and I don’t know what you people are all about,” on “Wicked Wisdom,” ... it doesn’t seem as genuine as his love for Bataille; it is perhaps a way to scare off anyone who doesn’t want to play the most unorthodox version of indie rock possible. Actually, “indie rock” barely applies to Of Montreal as anything but a description of the people who come to see it. What do you call music with horn parts reminiscent of both Burt Bacharach and Prince?"
"If you want to know exactly how A.D.D. a Barnes song can get, go to the seven-minute “Plastis Wafers,” which could be a self-contained primer on “Skeletal Lamping.” The song has four main sections, and touches on many of the sounds and ideas that Barnes returns to: sexuality, books, disco, progressive seventies rock, androgynous vocals, the shortest distance between two styles, and the entanglement of clear language and ambiguous feelings. Early in the song’s light-footed opening, which might be an Italian disco track from 1981, Barnes sings, “I confess to really being quite charmed by your feminine effects, you’re the only one with whom I would role play Oedipus Rex.” For Barnes, reading and music and sex all seem to be connected to the same central pleasure node."
"Barnes’s bag of tricks is deep; David Bowie’s bedazzled seventies rock is just as relevant as literary nods, disco highs are as appealing as melodic intricacy, and pleasure seems to drive every one of Barnes’s impatient, rococo arrangements. “Skeletal Lamping,” the group’s ninth and best album, isn’t just the most danceable; disco punches up the hedonism in Barnes’s songwriting, and the steady 4/4 thump helps keep the fidgety songs from splintering...Barnes knows he’s dealing with heady material, which might be why “Skeletal Lamping” is stuffed with so many different sounds and melodies and parts."
"The band brought this bit of theatre along when they performed “An Eluardian Instance” on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” As much as I salute Barnes and his cohorts for importing pageant and chaos to the stage, it’s all a little half-baked compared to the music running through Barnes’s head. Of Montreal would have to be a band on a par with the seventies version of Parliament to deliver both theatre and top-quality dance music. That kind of performance skirts Broadway in terms of complexity and production-value demands, and a touring band is going to have a hard time hitting those heights. In Barnes’s case, the spectacle is already in the sound."