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Aldhils Arboretum

Of Montreal Audio CD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.98
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Product Details

1. Doing Nothing
2. Old People in the Cemetery
3. Isn't It Nice?
4. Jennifer Louise
5. The Blank Husband Epidemic
6. Pancakes for One
7. We Are Destroying the Song
8. An Ode to the Noctural Muse
9. Predictably Sulking Sara
10. Natalie and Effie in the Park
11. A Question for Emily Foreman
12. Kissing in the Grass
13. Kid Without Claws
14. Death Dance of Omipapas and Songs for You

Product Description


Of Montreal return to their very beginnings on their oddly named fifth album, Aldhils Arboretum, abandoning all pretensions of constructing another Byzantine concept album as they did on their past three outings. As a result the quintet have made a stronger, more appealing record by simplifying their aesthetic--sounding much like they did on their 1997 debut, Cherry Peel--and creating 14 discrete, unrelated tableaus about some of the idiosyncratic characters from their native Athens, Georgia. Borrowing freely from the band's own autobiography, spiritual leader and main songwriter Kevin Barnes constructs a skewed pastoral scene in "Isn't It Nice" (about an actual exodus the band made to Clarke Country, Georgia, where four of the five members set up housekeeping in a community peopled with crotchety old women, inebriated neighbors, and suicidal deer), proving he can conjure rural characters just as compelling as the urban warriors Lou Reed described in "Walk on the Wild Side." Barnes blithely pens a story of a woman's love for her dog on "Natalie and Effie in the Park," only to turn around and write a paean to sleep, "An Ode to the Nocturnal Muse," in which he professes love for his bed, his pillow, and the dream state. However, snuggled underneath those cozy covers is a darker reality that slithers into your consciousness on the dark wings of an anxious organ fill, letting you know that the song--and the entire album, for that matter--is more Southern gothic than Southern comfort. --Jaan Uhelszki

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - A return to simpler Of Montreal Oct. 13 2002
Format:Audio CD
If Of Montreal's The Gay Parade was their Pet Sounds, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies their Smile, and Then Who will Protect our Children their Smiley Smile, where does that leave Aldhils Arboretum? Why it's Wild Honey, of course. This isn't meant to slight either album, as both have their distinct qualities, but for Of Montreal and The Beach Boys it represents a change in musical direction to looking backwards and not forwards. Aldhils Arboretum doesn't have the same high concept as Coquelicot or the coherence of The Gay Parade, but this probably makes it a more likable album for the newly initiated. If you're listening to the group for the first time, this should be your album. It's really the Of Montreal sampler. You can hear bits of Cherry Peel (Jennifer Louise), The Bedside Drama (Predictably Sulking Sara), The Gay Parade (Natalie and Effie in the Park), Coquelicot (the most challenging song on the CD, Kid Without Claws), and even Then Who Will Protect Our Children? (the beautiful An Ode to the Nocturnal Muse which is sung in Japanese (Neru No Daisuki) on the aforementioned CD).
There aren't too many clunker songs on this CD, which makes it very listenable from beginning to end. Even the lower quality songs like Isn't it Nice? and A Question for Emily Foreman have charm. What holds me back from giving this album the 5 star rating and my highest recommendation is the lack of some truly brilliant songs. Doing Nothing could be a pop hit if Of Montreal ever wanted that kind of thing, and Kid Without Claws brings me back for repeated listens. They just don't set off bells in my head like some of their better songs from earlier CDs.
That said, Aldhils Arboretum is worth buying for existing fans and those drawn by their curiosity.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Of Montreal's "Revoler"-equivalent Oct. 12 2002
Format:Audio CD
Upon its release last year, Of Montreal's previous album, "Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies", took its place among my over-1,400 cd's as the Absolute Favorite in my collection. I wondered how they could ever follow something so huge, so colorful and ambitious. Like the Beatles moving backward from "Sgt. Pepper" to "Revolver", they followed it up by tightening the structures, trimming some whimsy, and turning the guitars way, way up. Horns, strings, and pianos are still part of the sonic arsenal, but are used more sparingly, moving their sound away from the psychedelic vaudeville of past records and into a more electrified, "live" feel.
The songs here, in perfect Kevin Barnes style, are still as sweet, colorful, and twisty as licorice whips. But where their last few albums utilized crates of Crayola color, making each song fan out like fractal "oil puddles in taffeta patterns" (to steal a line from Joni Mitchell), the songs on this record are leaner, colored with fewer crayons, pressing harder. This is an aggressively guitar-and-buzzing-organ oriented record, and easily their most "rock". The conceptual ideas of the last few records have also been shed, giving the record a somewhat haphazard, random feel, lacking the strong collective identities of "The Gay Parade" or "Coquelicot." That said, the absence of an overarching story brings the individual songs more into focus, and these are some of the greatest songs they've come up with yet.
I was a bit taken aback by some of the lyrics on this record, particularly "Old People in the Cemetary." It's a good song, but an unusually mean-spirited and condescending missive from a normally good-natured and open-hearted songwriter. The lyrics of "Isn't it Nice?
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2.0 out of 5 stars simply, sadly Oct. 8 2002
By Vlad
Format:Audio CD
This almost shouldn't be done. Of Montreal made two incredible, full, beautiful albums: "The Gay Parade" and "Asleep in a Coliquet [sic] of Poppies" Those albums seemed very meticulously sequenced. They were a blend of genres all funneled down as pop rock. They were pretty clever, unexepected, catchy, etc, etc, etc. The kind of albums that would likely really scare the people that made them, if those albums threatened to put them in the limelight and give them high standards to live up to.
Then the band releases "Aldhils Arboretum" the opposite of all those things. I want to give them credit for having the guts to do that, to go against the grain. But instead I find only disappointment.
The album sounds like more like it came from a garage band than anything Of Montreal has done, even Kevin Barnes' work on the Early Four Track Recordings (which is also MUCH better than this new album). Much of the album seem like poor renditions of Faces songs. It just seems like the band just wanted to release a very lackluster album with absolutely nothing interesting about it. It's almost as if it were by another band posing as Of Montreal.
I hate bashing this album because Of Montreal has done made some really, really stellar albums. But this isn't one of them. Be warned.
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Format:Audio CD
If you're reading this, you've probably heard one of their other albums. If so, buy this at once. This is one of the most cohesive, focused and entertaining pop albums to spring from the Elephant 6 collective. Barnes' songwriting is top notch throughout, full of lovely wit and Ray Davies-esque satire and thematic development. The backings are crisp and sparkly, with Derek's high-register bass ostinatos conjuring Rickenbacker-era McCartney at ten paces. This record seems to distill everything that Of Montreal is about in a way that makes no concessions, yet somehow is more than pop and more than nostalgia. By shying away from the overt concept album trick, they've in fact crafted something that does for America what the Kink's Village Green lp did for England - evoking its soul in a non-time/un-time continuum - a sort of doube-exposure of the past overlayed on top of the present. Band is currently touring America in a van. Go watch them play in a city near you!
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