Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse
If the timing wasn’t so obvious, you could be forgiven for thinking that following the huge success of The Beatles’ 1, bands were trying to capture some of that past glory (and sales) for themselves. Thus, while Apples in Stereo resurrect the pop-she-loves-you-yeah aspect, fellow Elephant 6ers Of Montreal (who are actually of Athens, Ga.) are mining the psychedelic Hey-Bungalow-Bill-in-a-Yellow-Submarine side. So far so good.
But those Beatles songs were spaced amongst phenomenal pop songs… Coquelicot is a little like someone making a compilation of extended remixes of “You know my name,” “Yellow Submarine,” most of Sgt Pepper (including that bit at the end where you just hear the mopheads laughing and talking), “Bungalow Bill” and threw in some Plastic Ono tracks for good measure. Twenty-two tracks of it. It’s long, unremitting and opaque, and even the cool cartoon album cover artwork by David Barnes, (presumably brother of Kevin, the brains behind the band) which extends to an entire booklet and foldout poster, cannot redeem it (even the musical interpretation of the poster).
The music isn’t bad, it just manages to avoid any recognizable musicality. It is riddled with narrative bits and overcrowded lyrics that make it reminiscent of an overblown rock opera à la The Who’s Tommy, but there’s not really enough to make sense of the stories of child-eating hyena-cicadas (Track 17: “Lecithin’s Tale of a DNA experiment that went horribly awry”) or anything else. Apparently they made a movie as well. Maybe that would help. “Let’s do everything for the first time forever” is comically sweet and less contrived, but still lacks a convincing melody. Nor is the singer particularly engaging, which was always what redeemed The Beatles in their weirdness, and may have done the same for some of Of Montreal’s earlier material. Coquelicot is not bad, but you might be hard put to find a reason to listen to it more than once. Maybe twice, to hear that story about the hyena-cicadas again. —Andrew R. Iliff
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