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|1. Old Familiar Way|
|2. Fun Loving Nun|
|3. Tulip Barco|
|4. Jaques Lamure|
|5. The March Of The Gay Parade|
|6. Neat Little Domestic Life|
|7. A Collection Of Poems About Water|
|8. Y The Quale And Vaguely Bird Noisily Enjoying Their Forbidden Tryst|
|9. I'd Be A Yellow Feathered Loon|
|10. The Autobiographical Grandpa|
|11. The Miniature Philosopher|
|12. My Friend Will Be Me|
|13. My Favorite Boxer|
|14. Advice From A Divorced Gentlemen To His Bachelor Friend Considering Marriage|
|15. A Man's Life Flashing Before His Eyes While He And His Wife Drive Off A Cliff Into The Ocean|
|16. Nickee Coco And the Invisible Tree|
The acoustic/piano-ballad "Old Familiar Way" starts off the album, but it mostly focuses on how "It's amazing the wonders you can find/Just by stepping outside." Only at the end does Kevin Barnes greet listeners with "Welcome to the Gay Parade!" The album then switches to a bunch of songs about the glorious people, such as the bouncy dancey "Fun-Loving Nun," singsong "Tulip Baroo," and "The Miniature Philosopher."
While describing boxers, grandfathers and stuttering organ grinders, Barnes and Co. don't stray away from their typical little sweet songs: there's a carnival sound to "March of the Gay Parade," a goofy little sweet song. Elsewhere Barnes sings eagerly about the "Domestic Life," longs for special friends, and chronicles the story of Niki Coco, before finally bidding farewell in "The Gay Parade Outro."
The entire album more or less revolves around the Gay Parade, and how much happier the people in it (and near it) are. The general feeling is that it's not so much a real gathering as a state of mind -- enjoying the little things, "making friends with trees and animals," and seeing the magic of the world.
The songs rely heavily on Barnes' acoustic guitar, and the sweet piano pop that comes into the intro and outro. Little chimes and psychedelic swooshes give it an even more whimsical feel.Read more ›
Anyway, be glad that you are one of the few that cares enough to discover this record. Is it odd? you bet. Quirky, weird, psychedelic. Probably. Cute? No. That does it a disservice. It is a brillinatly conceived song-cycle of character sketches. The characters are, of course, an eccentric lot. A guy obsessed with a certain mean boxer, a widower with his "dogs for friends" awaiting death, a French firemen pining for heroism, an ecstatic dude waxing poetic about mowing the lawn while his wife knits. While the vocals approach giddy and cartoonish, the songs themselves can range for hilarious to rather disturbing--- often with one turn-of-phrase. There is indeed a intangible saddness looming over this private world, despite the Crayola surroundings.
The sound of the record is fascinating. The best thing about bands like Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control, etc. is that they know exactly the sonic landscape they wish to create and accomplish it with minimalist recording technology. The result is a sonic juggernaut of an album that sounds at once high-concept and low-fidelity... hiss, tape saturation, drops-outs--- all part of the sound. And it's damn near brilliant. Horns, tape manipulations, choirs of mice, saws, kazoos, plastic guitars--- many of the instruments barely in tune.
To my ear, it sounds like a benediction.
At the end of the record Kevin Barnes advises his listeners that they now know the way into the world of "The Gay Parade" and can return any time they like.... Can't I just set up camp and *stay*, Kev?
THE GAY PARADE is not as silly or shallow as it sounds at first. It really deals with a lot of issues of issues we all deal with, such as feelings of inferiority (on "Hector Comacho"), or else just figuring out what is really meaningful in your life (on the opening track.) Yes, I know, when you hear the album you'll think I may have read way too much into what sounds like an out-of-control carnival. But there is definitely a dark side to this album. This dark side is subtle, but if it weren't, it really would have ruined the album's overall innocent and gleeful tone.
Plus, Of Montreal are great musicians and singers. Their harmonies are perfect, and Kevin Barnes's voice is just loaded with charm. And the guitars, drums, and all the other jillion instruments are all perfectly produced; there's a lot of sound here, but it's not at all extraneous. It is really a great album just on the musical level.
If I still haven't convinced you to buy THE GAY PARADE, then I just have to say "Nickee Coco and the Invisible Tree" is one of the most joyful and hilarious songs around. It alone would be a great album!
You don't hear much joy and happiness in music these days, and THE GAY PARADE is a great place to start.