If Of Montreal’s over-sexed genre-hopping cast any doubt on Kevin Barnes’ commercial potential, False Priest puts them to rest. With his (at least) metaphorical muse found in the enigmatic Janelle Monae, Barnes reigns in the verbal-orgy-as-art attention deficit freakout, and paints a pretty graphic picture of love in the age of therapy and public discourse. While 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? was the mad genius’s pop-funk-folk-poet singularity, mashing genres together into an unclassifiable hour worth of pop art brilliance, False Priest sings familiar piper’s songs from the edge looking back, focusing track by track on an irresistible collection of distinctly eccentric pop nuggets.
Between the anthemic pop opener “I Feel Ya Strutter” and closing cerebral art pop of “Around the Way” and “Do You Mutilate,” False Priest walks the line between hormonal fantasy and cynical caution towards erupting crushes. “Our Riotous Defects” explores the uncertainty and fear in a hypnotic stranger’s allure, but love blindly conquers all, including reasonable doubts, which crop up constantly in the Manhattan-cool rock swagger of “Coquet Coquette” and gorgeous Spector pop of “Enemy Gene,” in which Barnes and his muse examine romance in terms of primitive gods and particle-wave duality.
All the puppy love starts to wear off by the return-to-form “Like a Tourist,” a dance rock freakout that confuses love, lust, friendship and airport security fantasies soaked in animal blood. The deep, runaway p-funk of “A Girl Named Hello” asks point blank: do you have to hate yourself to love another? Barnes clearly hasn’t figured it all out, but if experience and openness are the keys to wisdom, Of Montreal’s growth from the graphic, x-rated play-by-play of their last two records to the social psychoanalysis of False Priest is a step towards tantric nirvana. Barnes has matured from a shock-art savant to the indie-rock incarnation of Prince’s funky self, and with some of the freakiness hidden in the skeleton closet, False Priest may just sneak Of Montreal into the Cleavers’ living room to subvert the dominant suburban sexual paradigm."