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Aldhils Arboretum

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 15.81
Only 1 left in stock - order soon.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Aug. 24 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Kindercore Records
  • ASIN: B00006IJ2Y
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #116,919 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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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

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 30 2007
Format: Audio CD
Elephant 6 band Of Montreal is at its best when they make goofy, quirky concept albums, or at the very least weird songs that make you wish you had whatever they're smoking. That endearing surreality is missing from "Adhils Arboretum," which is a fun indiepop album, but feels somehow too toned down and laid-back.

It opens with the disjointedly bouncy "Doing Nothing," which fits the lead vocals like a four-fingered glove. Things improve somewhat with the clinky pop of "Old People in the Cemetary," which one-ups the "What a drag it is/getting old" with lines like "It must be hard to relate/after the world of your youth/totally evaporates."

There's a more garage-rocky vibe to songs like "Isn't It Nice?" and the ringingly percussive "We Are Destroying the Song." But hints of their older style peep out in the second half of the album, like in the lilting "Predictably Sulking Sarah," perky piano-pop "Natalie and Effie in the Park," and the psychedelic swirls of "Kid Without Claws."

It's hard to know why, after the glorious psychedelic tapesties they've woven, Of Montreal would opt for a sound that is so... ordinary. It sounds a bit like garage rockers on acid, which is a cool idea in itself -- but Kevin Barnes and Co. sound pretty uncomfortable with such a stripped-down sound.

Their colorful pop has been toned down to some slightly muffled guitar melodies and solid percussion, augmented by cello and some electronic flourishes. But in the second half, the band starts slipping back -- they use a drooping violin, sprightly piano, robotic vocals, odd wavery keyboard, and a sort of French folk-club sound, complete with brass. That's more like it, people.
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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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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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