Artist: of Montreal
Album: White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
Genre: Electronic/Synthpop/Experimental Pop
The very prolific Kevin Barnes and his extensive discography under his “of Montreal” project is a lot to digest. This body of work is rich in eclecticism and it draws from numerous genres, but the most prominent influence has always been “Psychedelic Pop” very reminiscent of the 60’s. There’s even a bit of Syd Barrett worship at times, and though this may be a bit of a distraction, the intrigue of where Barnes will go next has never waned. Once again on the band’s 15th studio album White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, their sound has shifted into another unexpected direction. Inspired by 1980’s-style extended dance mixes this album goes in a very synth-heavy and danceable direction with four to the floor beats, groovy funk-filled basslines, and layers on top of layers of confusing and at times discombobulating sound textures. Oh yeah, there’s a lot going on, and Barnes and co. truly sound like they’re having fun. Especially Barnes who sounds a bit too happy to be singing about themes such as misanthropy, body dysmorphia, and being a loyal pervert, but nonetheless the band is having fun. The thing is, more often than not these songs feel too cluttered and a bit too reliant on production techniques, which takes a lot away from the enjoyability of this album. There’s enough proof that the band can succeed at the sound they’re going for but the damaging factors that make themselves front and center such as the clutter and Barnes’ goofy vocal delivery make this album insufferable for the most part, but when this album works, it’s a whole lot of fun. “Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia” is a fun “House” dominated track with a catchy as Hell chorus with plenty of sing-a-long-able “Fuck fuck fucks!” The track “Writing the Circles/Orgone Tropics” is drony and hypnotic but with infectious percussion that will have you moving while you trip, and one of the main reasons why this track works so well is that the vocals aren’t as obnoxious as they are on the rest of the album, and that is another damaging factor. Yes there is a lot of great music that is obnoxious, but this album obnoxiously flaunts it’s massive amounts of cringe, and the majority of this cringe lies in the lyrics. With words like “Every person is a pussy, every pussy is a star,” or “Fucked in your driveway, in your driveway,” one can’t help but want to turn the shit off. An album from a band this inspired shouldn’t have those moments, but unfortunately it does, but this album isn’t a complete failure. The band knows how to make “Electronic” music quite well, and if they continue to go down this path but improve on this album’s misfires then we could witness a successful reinvention of “of Montreal.” One thing is for sure, that intrigue still hasn’t died.
Written By: Steven Sandoval