Kevin Barnes is often one to over-complicate things, but in the funnest way possible. This comes through in pretty much everything. The song styles, their structures, their silly yet sharp lyrics, their titles ('Exorcism Breeding Knife'.....?), his live performances, even the album covers. I sometimes found his songs to be a little too hectic for my liking, but nevertheless they are catchy as hell, and his vocal chords are a gift from god.
A couple years ago, Kevin took on a more simplistic style with False Priest. On Paralytic Stalks, he pretty much goes all-out on the wacky instrumentation, while concentrating more on adding layer upon layer of sonic mayhem. There is quite a bit more of experimentation too, which is understandable, except on a track like the accurately-titled 'Exorcism Breeding Knife', it comes off as less of experimentation, and more of an incohesive, distorted mess. It even starts to come off as a little self-indulgent.
The album even starts out in a confused jumble with 'Gelid Ascent', until it breaks out into a sonically-distant, but generally pleasant tune. It then segues into slightly more familiar territory with 'Spiteful Intervention', a messy yet fantastic track. It continues with the much more familiar 'Dour Percentage', which actually turns out to be the least convoluted one here. 'We Will Commit Wolf Murder' is another pretty good track, where he actually hints at his bizzare lyrics;
"....into some ancient reptilian form like an agnostic transubstantiation."
"I don't know what that is."
"Use your imagination!"
A couple decent tracks go by and before we know it, we're confronted with a series of unnecessarily-long experimental tracks before it ends with a relieving couple minutes of Kevin and a comforting melody from an intimate-sounding upright piano.
Paralytic Stalks is kind of like a tasty birthday cake, only covered in a mess of sugary sweets, mounds of colorful toppings and multi-flavored frosting, to the point where it just starts to make you sick. There are some delicious melodies there, you just have to find them under the layers of sugar.
1. Gelid Ascent
2. Spiteful Intervention
3. Dour Percentage
4. We Will Commit Wolf Murder
5. Malefic Dowery
6. Ye, Renew the Plaintiff
7. Wintered Debts
8. Exorcism Breeding Knife
9. Authentic Pyrrhic Remission