Reinforcement. That’s what I provide.
Reinforcement and verification. Validation. The sense that you’re not on your own. You looking for a little triangulation in your life and don’t know where to turn? Look this way. I’m the expert in falling down.
It’s a concept album about the fall of decadence, the inability to live any longer wrapped within one’s bullshit, the sound of someone pulling back the curtain on their personal Satyricon and recoiling in disgust. It’s a hastily scrawled note by a prisoner encased in his own psychological stockade. It’s a weary fever dream of unraveled exhaustion. The sound of someone dead inside struggling to feel alive, and, at the same time, the sound of someone so bursting with emotion they wish they could turn themselves off. Paralytic Stalks inverts itself on these axes so many times it’s hard to listen and not feel slightly nauseous, to cringe.
Scott Creney’s review of Paralytic Stalks
The longer I live, the less I trust my own language. Maybe it’s a side effect of being an academic. Rule number one: there are no certainties. I can think of many reasons this particular of Montreal song should be made a Song of the Day – it confuses, it explores, it exhales, it keeps twisting and lolling and turning, it breathes fermented love – but right now I can only think of the many reasons that perhaps it shouldn’t be. Forced into a corner, the vocals are all Patrick Wolf madness and Patrick Wolf sadness, and there’s a finish to the production that makes me think of every record I’ve distrusted on Secretly Canadian in the past decade: psychedelic doesn’t mean Christmas lights on Sunderland bridge anymore, but I once loved Aspera and I once loved imagination. The segments come looped. These are long segments.
It’s 13 minutes long. The first three minutes continues the dramatic push/pull, love/hate, cling/escape themes of the album before building to the stark and defeated admission, “Every time I listen to my heart, I just get hurt”. At which point, the album veers out on a seven-minute mind-blowing sonic journey before dissolving into a stately piano. For someone who’s been taking his clothes off in concerts for the last five years, this is the most naked — musically and emotionally, Barnes has been since his first album.
Scott Creney’s review of Paralytic Stalks, 13/2/12
I can’t write for other people. This isn’t entertainment, not what I do, not anymore. I am truly uncertain who my audience is, or maybe I’m just way too certain and don’t want to acknowledge the fact. This music, this song, makes me feel giddy with nausea and nauseous with delight. Just when you think it’s all collapsed around your knees, something else happens. (Isn’t that a great way to praise music? Something else happens.) The Piano at the end is precisely that. Piano at The End. Wonderful. The irritation value is considerable, but so are the parts where you stare blankly at the screen only for the pixels to reform into other shapes and words. I never understood why ‘Shine On You, Crazy Diamond’ wasn’t two minutes long.
Refreshment, that’s what I need to provide.
Where others lead I can only wallow.