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The Gay Parade

Of Montreal
The Gay Parade
(Bar None Records)

Somedays I wonder what world that Of Montreal inhabits, because it certainly doesn't quite sound like this one. Granted, members of the band are in as diverse projects as Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control (the whole Elephant 6 collective is about as musically incestuous as they come), but this album is cuckoo. When I say that, I mean it in a good way, actually. The Gay Parade is actually just about the perfect title for this release. It's goofy, endearing music that really just makes you want to sing along with it. The fourteen songs range from tales of the normal to downright absurd, and in 45 minutes time and 16 tracks, you'll have heard at least something that makes you chuckle and smile (unless you completely despise this kind of music in the first place).

At any rate, the album starts out with "Old Familiar Way" and you're introduced to the kitchen sink and all style of the band. Although the core of the track is fairly basic with piano, percussion, and vocals, there are all kinds of extra additions (from crooning to yelling background singers and whistles and other random sounds) that help keep the track slightly off kilter. If the first track is a toe in the water, though, the second track "Fun Loving Nun" is a complete submersion. Bursting out of the gates with a pumped-up organ and sped-up vocals that sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks, the song launches into the joyful silliness that is the album with actual vocals that tell the story of a boistrous nun (obviously).

"Jaques Lamure" tells the story of a sad, shy volunteer firefigher who also works at a clog factory and has elaborate daydreams while "Neat Little Domestic Life" is a happy little ode to everyday household chores. Things go from surreal to normal from one song to the next, but the music itself always manages to keep sort of a constant joyful glee. Sounding partially influenced by the Beatles and obviously different parts of many other Elephant 6 groups, this is probably the most blatantly goofy album that I've heard from that group. Everything from toy pianos to typewriters, bells, and musical saws are on the disc, so even when the lyrics are focused on a girl named Nickee Coco who falls asleep in an Invisible Tree (and the subsequent hunt for her), the instrumentation doesn't sound too outlandish.

As you may expect, there is even a track that introduces the listener to the "Gay Parade" and one that leads them out of the proceedings. The carny-band, marching horn sound and totally loose vocals let you know just what you're getting into (and welcome you to come back and visit again sometime). If you embrace absurd pop music that obviously doesn't take itself too seriously, you must hunt this release down. You might even feel a bit silly listening to it at times, but I think that's the point. Besides, if you manage to have even one-fourth as much fun listening to it as those who put it together (which is something that's pretty obvious upon hearing it), you'll be doing pretty well.

Rating: 7