Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
The chief, No. 1 difference between "Of Montreal's" Kevin Barnes and Jennifer Gentle's Marco Fasolo is that Barnes will go ahead and bring samurai swords onto stages, wear as many dresses as he cares to and whip out his johnson on-stage in Las Vegas and Fasolo just decides to imbue that crazy ass behavior in his songs. Barnes used to just write the crazy ass shit into his songs, but now he just acts it out. That's fine and that's great. Fasolo piles the insanity onto the top of his pie as if he wanted to drench whatever flavor was below in whipped topping, layers and layers of unhinged, slightly loopy whipped topping. He plays the wild card coolly, diabolically ingraining his overly handled, personal nuggets with stratified degrees of off-center clippings of ideas and auras. He does so with an elfish voice that whines predominantly in a pleasing way, giving notice that someone's been glancing over the side of the ledge with serious thoughts of leaping to no one knows what and that there's no way of knowing how it's all going to turn up in the end - whether there's simply a batch of ruffled hair to comb and a scrape to bandage over with some Neosporin or legs to set and graves to hoe. There's complete uncertainly in most of what Fasolo does and all of it is meditated, as far as is creatively allowed.
You can't meditate a sound too much for the fear of all the backfiring, but as a rule, these songs on the band's latest long player The Midnight Room are planned as the antithesis to convention, to khaki and neutral colors, to everything that could be reasoned. Fasolo mentions below in his descriptions accompanying the four songs that make up the also accompanying session that there's been a "psychedelic" pigeonholing that the band's been hampered with since it started making records and since he's the main guy and the only guy who recorded anything on the latest album, he takes that personally. He doesn't wish to be referred to as the psychedelic monster any longer. He'd rather dance with rock and roll's first fathers, but there's a twisting effect that happens when desires get their feet tangled with instincts.
No way can Fasolo forsake all of the weirdness and quirky pop sensibility. His psychedelia isn't that of the Brian Jonestown Massacre or the Dandy Warhols, but it's got its own kind of spooky, unorthodox freaking out going on in almost every number, no matter how much candy-coating gets applied. He goes far out of his way to outline a backdrop for The Midnight Room that's more of a haunted house lined with mirrors and mind-scrambling devices. Fasolo is busy making an enchanted forest that one should never walk through alone. He makes music that feels like the trees will at once start acting like they did around Dorothy and the Scarecrow. They'll start wrapping their branches around your ankles and poking at you with their spiny fingers, which used to just be the patios of birds before they became animated. They'll follow you. They'll give off the feeling of being a painting with moving eyes. There will be sorcerers and fog on the floor. There will be gingerbread men with their cheeks eaten off and birds with no heads. All of Jennifer Gentle is a backwards playground for mental problems and undeniable pop taste. It's not a wonder that when they were here in town they bought a pair of old, size seven Beatles boots and a stack of Gwar video cassettes. They're making music for all of the stretchy-faced actors in Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" video. Those grins...they eat at you.