Since the release of 2010’s False Priest I’ve been listening to people say of Montreal lost whatever magic they had left. It was their tenth album, so maybe time finally caught up with the band. That would be a valid point of it weren’t completely wrong. False Priest is one of their strongest records to date, and a nice change of pace that continued on Paralytic Stalks. Lousy With Sylvianbriar was another great entry in the discography, so there’s at least three records since of Montreal “lost it” that are actually really good.
And now there’s Aureate Gloom, the 13th studio album for a band that’s never received significant radio play and came closest to the cultural zeitgeist via an Outback Steakhouse commercial. They must be doing something right. On this new release they get almost EVERYTHING right.
I don’t buy a ton of music, and I very rarely buy something without listening to it first. I heard the single “Bassem Sabry” and halfway through the track I was on Polyvinyl’s website checking out limited edition vinyl. I think Aureate Gloom will be the one that brings back fans that are mad every record doesn’t sound like Satanic Panic In The Attic. It doesn’t rely on funk and R&B like Priest, or 60’s pop like Lousy.
There is something inherently compelling about Kevin Barnes as a musical performer. The way he writes and delivers songs is completely unique-his voice will be stuck in your head for days repeating lines like “I was amazed by how husky your singing voice was.” And that’s a tune he barely even sings! He’s just talking and I’ve literally walked around for weeks with “Our Riotous Defects” stuck on a loop in my brain.
Barnes always makes odd references to things I don’t understand right away. On the song “Virgilian Lots” he sings “Just as the twin volcanoes on Cuauhnãhuac, we were once stable. So sad I must bury every thought of you before it shows its teeth. Now I amuse myself with nativious forms of Virgilian Lots, like your neo-feminist divinations.”
What? Volcanoes where? Is Virgilian Lots like Big Lots? Barnes never talks down to his listeners, but he doesn’t make it easy either. I prefer that to the watered-down lowest common denominator words most artists use.
The problem with a band that’s been putting out music for 20 years is that most people have already made up their mind about liking the music. You have to be cautious going through life like that, because you may have heard one of Montreal record that isn’t anything like Aureate Gloom, and then you’re missing out on great music and it’s your own fault. Keep your ears open because you may just hear something you like.
As with most new releases, a tour is going along with of Montreal’s new album, and they are hitting the road with Deerhoof. Check out their site for full details.