of Montreal has always been a strange band. Frontman, Kevin Barnes’ willingness to venture into different genres and experimentation with exotic sounds has always been an important charm to the band and a means of excitement to see how the band will evolve with new records.
On their impressive sixteenth album, of Montreal find themselves mostly relishing in the sounds of pop from the 1980’s, embracing the sounds of the 80’s is different from other acts as the group is embracing a much more pop aesthetic when compared to more contemporary artists looking to the disco era of the 1980’s for inspiration. Synthesizers are bright and shiny with drum machines occasionally sprawling up as decoration in some songs.
With such precise production and shiny instruments all making such a cohesive listen, every song tends to have a section that nearly guarantees it will stick in your mind. “Peace To All Freaks” opens with a such beautiful and bright production that it feels perfectly at home in the middle of a Stranger Things episode.
“Polyaneurism” is such an enjoyable pop tune that would have Madonna smiling. “St. Sebastian” boasts of a quirky synth coupled with funky bass guitar that stands out in the later track-listing. Tracks like “Don’t Let Me Die In America” and “Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha” seem to take the fundamental lessons from pop and apply them to a more punk rock back-drop with the former having a breakdown that seems incredibly reminiscent of the B-52’s.
“Carmillas of Love” is a strange song that feels lazy and sticky all due to a sludge, deep guitar riff contrasting to higher pitched tremolo guitar riffs at times riding alongside the psychedelic tune. Despite so many songs being absolutely delightful, a number of songs are not as enjoyable coming around on repeat listens. “Get God’s Attention By Being Atheist” features sections that are too loud and bombastic one minute, but quiet and subtle the next. It’s something that comes off as jarring and off putting. Likewise, “You’ve Had Me Everywhere” is a track that features lyrics that are too cheesy to be taken seriously despite terrific instrumentation.
Revisiting the 1980’s is something that has become vastly popular of late. From television shows to movies to music. While most contemporary groups have taken inspiration from disco, of Montreal is finding a delightful number of tunes that embrace the pop side of the decade. Songs lush and glow with beautiful synths, drum machines, and strange songwriting we’ve come to expect from an of Montreal album.
Some of the later songs even tend to genre mix as punk and the shiny pop instrumentation are featured on one track. It’s something that could have resulted in a messy, terrible song, but instead comes off quite cohesively. Not every song is of the same quality, but following the ten track adventure is something nonetheless fun and definitely worth a listen.
By Caleb Ortiz