There was a time when I was very much into of Montreal. I still occassionally listen to them and I still like their music a lot. In fact, I usually have periods of times when I re-discover them and go through their albums and they remind me of that time when I really liked them a lot and it’s great. There’s something about their music that makes it ridiculous, fun and yet serious at the same time. Sometimes I laugh with some of their songs and sometimes I think they have some very eloquent lines and some serious story-telling moments (e.g. The Past Is A Grotesque Animal). Yet, it never stops being fun. Even their concerts are crazy fun because (even though I’ve never seen them live) I’ve heard that you can expect everything, from naked crazy people to epic costumes and covers.
And this upcoming album also continues with the same old of Montreal we’ve known since they introduced their “redesign” or whatevs and actually became relevant with Satanic Panic in the Attic. There’s some real ambition to most of of Montreal’s recent stuff, and this album is not an exception. It’s always strong. It’s energy might even get overwhelming at times. But if you’d heard of them before, “overwhelming” is something you’re used to. And, I don’t know. An of Montreal album is something very hard to describe. All you need to know is that they’re excentric, and it comes off in their music. It’s gay. And not in like the homosexual way, but in the original sense of the word, kind of “ridiculously happy”. The thing is, one of the things that made Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? popular, and the thing I liked the most about it was the contrast between the gay music and the dark, almost depressing and at times even suicidal lyrics. And I guess there’s still some of that here. There’s also the weirdly funny sexual references like the one found in For Our Elegant Caste in their previous release “We can do it softcore if you want, but you should know I take it both ways”. They are funny because it’s not something you’d usually say, and also because they have no place being there. They’re just random and that’s why they’re funny. Yeah, so those random moments that I love so much are still there, they’re just not that explicit.
Speaking of their previous release, 2008’s Skeletal Lamping -which I loved-, I’ve heard lots of criticism about it’s structure. And I get it, it’s broken into like 100 different parts of songs put together in an eloquent manner. Ok, maybe not a hundred, but there’s a lot of little pieces in it, and that’s why I’ve heard people complain, it’s very fragmented. But it’s not like it’s impossible to listen to it, it’s actually very easy to follow trhrough, although it never actually settled and it kept moving around different pieces and fragments throughout the whole album; very much like The Monitor, but ten times crazier. Well, my point is, this album has none of that. There’s actually some normal song structures here!
It’s a very strong album because every moment in it is relevant. There are no “bad” songs, really, it’s just the whole album that is missing something. I don’t know, maybe a couple more stories about drug abuse. Because, by the way, what I get from most of the lyrics is a story about someone who broke up with a very, very hot chick. Like in the second track, Our Riotous Defects, Kevin Barnes forgets about singing and starts reciting what I thought was a very funny story that pretty much talked about the break-up with said chick, while coming back to the opening verse, “You are such a crazy girl”. But I thought Barnes was a married man with children? Perhaps he got a divorce? Maybe he’s writing as his alter ego Georgie Fruit? Who cares as long as the music’s great, right? I was just pointing out the Blood on the Tracks-iness of this album.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that the album feels uncomfortable at times, or at least the sounds do. There’s some moments where I think that the verse/riff/melody/whatever-is-playing seems out of place, like it doesn’t sound catchy. But it’s just a few times on this album and it caught me off guard because I’m not used to these sort of moments in an of Montreal album. I’ll give them a pass. And then there’s the rumored R&B-ness of this album that Barnes has talked about for some time now. Yeah, I don’t really get much of that. Maybe I was expecting it to be entirely R&B and not a bit of R&B mixed with Kevin Barnes’ crazy music. But I guess I can see where he comes from when he says this.
Maybe it’s not as good as Hissing Fauna or Skeletal Lamping, perhaps it’s on par with Sunlandic Twins. Maybe not. It’s hard classifying of Montreal’s albums because they’re so different and complete, diverse. I’d say if you like their previous stuff then you’ll like this, and otherwise.
Favourites are: I Feel Ya Strutter, Our Riotous Defects, Sex Karma, and Girl Named Hello. But like with any of Montreal album, naming favorites is useless as they are ten times better within the context of the album.
By the way, I usually like of Montreal’s album covers a lot, but I HATE this one. Probably because I don’t understand it. Am I the only one?