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Alternative & Indie - Released January 17, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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The album cover, which doesn’t resemble any previous covers from the group, is a nod to an obsession of different eras, from the 50s to the 80s. This band from Athens, Georgia progresses further in its artistic line (with ten albums to their name since 1997), by mixing different genres and eras together while moving a step away from the kaleidoscopic psychedelics of their previous work. The album cover perfectly reflects the aesthetic of the music, within which you can recognise the creative extravagance which is inherent to the band’s leader Kevin Barnes (particularly on wacky tracks like Peace To All Freaks and Gypsy That Remains), but also a certain level of serenity, sometimes crossed with saccharine tones and melodies (You’ve Had Me Everywhere and the catchy chorus of Polyaneurysm). On the whole, Of Montreal’s album is a sunny extravaganza of synthetic pop, with occasional rock and psych tendencies (Don’t Let Me Die In America, 20th Century Schizofriendic Revenge-man). If you observe this project superficially, you could easily say that UR FUN does its name justice. But it is worth remembering that this fun sometimes masks certain melancholic and tortured echos, like the song St. Sebastian: here, the use of the minor key beneath the bouncing rhythm is heartbreaking. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 5, 2021 | Sybaritic Peer

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 23, 2007 | Polyvinyl Records

After an impressive showing with 2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic and a jubilant follow-up in 2005's Sunlandic Twins, Of Montreal captain Kevin Barnes fell on some peculiar times. The birth of a daughter, alienation and depression in Norway, and subsequent separation from their wife and new child gave Barnes plenty to mull over, work out, and serve up on 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? At first glance, longtime Of Montreal followers might throw up their arms in dismay as Barnes moves well away from the usual slice-of-life character studies they've made such good use of over the past few years -- no pop-challenged London cabbies or paranoid senior citizens on Hissing. No sir. In fact, it's all about Barnes -- every stitch of it. It's Kevin Barnes trying to woo themself out of a deep funk ("Suffer for Fashion," "Sink the Seine," and especially "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse"), lashing out ("She's a Rejecter"), or taking a dip in the self-pity pool (the epic wallower "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal" is nearly 12 minutes of drone-dance affirmations). At first, it's an alarming listening experience. Where's the self-assured, polished pop maestro who made such a fine showing on the past two albums? They took one hell of a beating, that's for sure. The Kevin Barnes heard here has a bone to pick, issues to work out, and a big ol' chip on their shoulder -- and, man, does it show. The music and production reflect this as much as the lyrical content. Barnes throws every trick in their book at every arrangement, lending every track a definite "I'll show you!!" vibe. And show they do. The explosive opener, "Suffer for Fashion," exceeds every over-the-top anthem they've ever penned in one 2:58 ejaculation, and the alternately swaggering and smooth "Cato as a Pun" melds a gutsy guitar riff with a gorgeously fussed-over verse. Production-wise, it's quite an achievement -- the whole thing -- and, coupled with the bile and bitterness of the lyrics, makes for an exhausting experience in the headphones. There might be stray moments of whimsy, in the tunes and verse, but they are scant, and they hardly provide the lighthearted breathing room fans are used to receiving from the songwriter. "Light" is not a word useful in describing any portion of this excursion, and the serious tone of this record may cause some hand-wringing among even the dedicated. It's a challenging but ultimately rewarding album -- and one that definitely requires some thoughtful attention from the listener. Don't stow this one back on the shelf just yet -- it's a "grower." © J. Scott McClintock /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 22, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Indie Pop - Released April 6, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 12, 2005 | Polyvinyl Records

Kevin Barnes' seventh Of Montreal album continues in their traditional vein of toying and teasing our memories of 1960s pop, fed through whichever other fad or fashion most appeals to them at the time. In this instance, it's "21st century A.D.D. electro-cinematic avant-disco," which is a deliciously protracted way of saying quirky rhythms, lush harmonics, and a warm spot on the same side of the bed that the Polyphonic Spree occasionally share. The most deceptive angle to the album probably has to do with the titles -- it's unlikely whether the most obtuse mind could ever imagine tapping its toes to something called "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)," while "Forecast Fascist Future" simply shouldn't sound like a British Beach Boys, pebble-dashed with Ray Davies' finest harmonic daydreams, and then piped into a nursery where the infant Frank Zappa lays sleeping. Elsewhere, "Our Spring Is Sweet, Not Fleeting" may be little more than a minute long, but you live through great swathes of Rosemary's Baby while it's playing. To harp on about the "obvious" precedents that aging ears can pick out of Of Montreal's sonic stew, however, is to overlook all that is so savagely entertaining about their music (plus, it makes them sound like a High Llamas tribute band, which is unfair as well). Rather, Sunlandic Twins is an album to leave playing while you're going about your daily business. Then see how quickly you discover its 13 tracks burrowing so deeply into your skull that it's as though you'd lived with its jerking, burbling, and never less than transcendental swirlings forever. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 13, 2008 | Polyvinyl Records

During the closing moments of 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, bandleader Kevin Barnes introduced his alter ego, an effeminate singer by the name of Georgie Fruit. One year later, that character runs amok on Skeletal Lamping, having wrenched the spotlight away from Barnes' sugary pop and trained it on an ambitious hybrid of glam rock, experimental R&B, and Scissor Sisters-styled sex-funk. Barnes sounds truly uninhibited under the Fruit guise, making declarations like "I'm just a black she-male!" with flamboyant confidence. Such a shift in direction marks Of Montreal's ascent into the psychedelic clouds where Ziggy Stardust once flew -- only this time, the listener catches a ride on the back of a transgendered Prince fanatic whose songs are fragmented and confusing, yet still peppered with irresistible hooks. Like the album's cover art (an origami-influenced billfold whose flaps unfurl to form a giant floral display), Skeletal Lamping demands attention by being purposely puzzling. The music is extravagant and elaborate; each song is comprised of multiple vignettes, many of them completely different in style, and each track spills into the next. It's interesting to watch the pieces fit together -- to pinpoint the exact second where one song ends and another one begins -- but that's tantamount to looking at the adjacent parts of puzzle pieces without standing back to witness the full picture. So while Skeletal Lamping sounds impressive as it unfolds, what ultimately takes shape is a somewhat erratic album, filled with quick flashes of pop melody but mostly devoid of truly realized songs (although several tracks, particularly the buoyant "An Eluardian Instance," do come close). Whether or not one enjoys Skeletal Lamping depends on the listener's tolerance for unchecked ambition and left-field experimentation, both of which are emphasized here to the songs' detriment. Of Montreal have rarely sounded so free, so unrestrained, but Kevin Barnes has also never flaunted lyrics like "I'm so sick of sucking the dick of this cruel, cruel city" and "I want you to be my pleasure-puss, I want to know what it's like to be inside you, I wanna give you that oooh la!" This is a love-it-or-lump-it album, a polarizing effort that -- depending on personal preference -- is either irresistibly attractive or overly pretentious. © Andrew Leahey /TiVo
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Indie Pop - Released January 23, 2007 | Polyvinyl Records

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Indie Pop - Released September 13, 2010 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

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Rock - Released June 3, 2008 | Bar - None Records

Hailing from the '90s-resurgent Athens, Georgia scene, unofficial home base to the Elephant 6 collective, Of Montreal is perhaps the least publicized band in the Elephant 6 stable but not because they make the least-worthy music. To the contrary, Cherry Peel is one of the most unabashedly pretty releases from that group, and, in fact, stands apart from most everything in the pop scene due to its simple, unassuming innocence. The vocals of songwriter Kevin Barnes are achingly heartfelt and puppyish, and Barnes' songs seem to spring directly out of childhood, or at least seem touched by a childlike yearning, so much so that you can't help feeling all fuzzy inside and perhaps desirous of hugging someone, maybe your mom, after hearing them. And the songs are uniformly expert: "In Dreams I Dance with You" comes across like a cupid-struck Pinocchio's sweet longing; "Montreal" is a wasteland ballad worthy of Neil Young; and "Don't Ask Me to Explain" will make your heart palpitate and bubble up into your throat it is so unpretentiously euphonic. The closest cousin to Of Montreal is probably the Apples in Stereo, and like that band, the influence of the Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney, and the Beach Boys is pervasive, and other '60s music such as Brill Building pop and the Lovin' Spoonful ("Everything Disappears When You Come Around") and a bit of psychedelia, as well as a pinch of new wave, occasionally reaches the surface of the songs. But Of Montreal touches on so many other sources than those, such as circus music and, on "I Can't Stop Your Memory," even a bit of jazz, and the entire album has the sentiment and conviction of early-20th century, old-timey, and Tin Pan Alley tunes. The gorgeous lushness of Cherry Peel conceals the bedroom-bred genesis of the entire undertaking. And though it would be easy to dismiss the whole album as so much cuteness, Of Montreal never hint at irony. They are not mocking pop, they love the form and the chance to express that joy, and that joy is on full display on Cherry Peel like no band since the early Beatles. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 2015 | Polyvinyl Records

Snare Lustrous Doomings is a 19-track, 90-minute, career-spanning live album from uncommonly dynamic indie stalwarts Of Montreal. Recorded and mixed by frequent collaborator Drew Vandenberg from shows at Portland's Wonder Ballroom and San Francisco's Great American Music Hall in October 2014, it predates Aureate Gloom and instead offers three tunes from 2013's critically acclaimed and Billboard 200-landing Lousy with Sylvianbriar. It also hits their 2007 breakthrough Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? hard, representing over half of that album. While we miss the loads of trippy fun that come from the band's visual presentation on the road, which includes a regular stream of props and costumes (physical copies come with a full-color booklet of tour photos), the performances never falter by the regular-of-late studio and touring lineup of leader Kevin Barnes on vocals/guitar, Bennett Lewis on guitar, JoJo Glidewell on keyboards, Bob Parins on bass, and Clayton Rychlik on drums. They, especially Barnes, attack the performances with punky, funky gusto, and by the end of the second song, there's already respectful wonder at how the songwriter remembers all of the lyrics to his verbose, often rapid-fire tomes. Highlights include the rambunctious "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" and the dance party "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger," which leads into the bass-crazed "The Party's Crashing Us" (kudos to Parins), though the party really only ever pauses for a sultry "Obsidian Currents" and "Honeymoon in San Francisco." The one cover from the set is a spot-on version of Fairport Convention's "Time Will Show the Wiser" with guest Nedelle Torrisi (Cryptacize, Sufjan Stevens) on vocal harmony, and the recording closes with a 13-minute jam of "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal." Nearly 20 years and over 15 albums in, Of Montreal were probably overdue for a live release, and Snare Lustrous Doomings, though not really a singles collection, captures the equivalent of a highly charged night out with the band's best-known material and rollicking showmanship. A must for fans, those who enjoy the group but find their records a bit challenging to get through will want to give this one a spin. It was first available in April 2015 as a Record Store Day exclusive on colored vinyl, and received a multi-format release six months later. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Indie Pop - Released February 6, 2012 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 8, 2013 | Polyvinyl Records

Though Kevin Barnes had always used Of Montreal to build a strange, often beautiful world of complex personal thoughts and visions, their albums grew increasingly manic (musically and psychologically) throughout the mid-2000s. Over the project's lengthy career, Barnes had taken their muse from sweetly lo-fi bedroom twee beginnings to bouncy disco-pop heights, landing in some bizarre, wounded state of indie R&B dementia by the time of albums like 2010's False Priest, with the lyrics growing increasingly raw and scattered. 2012's almost impenetrably dense Paralytic Stalks found Barnes' hyper-personal self-analysis and quickly changing psychedelic pop reaching a saturation point for many listeners, and reviews were mixed. Lousy with Sylvianbriar is a complete about-face from the cast of multiple personalities and sonic mood swings of Barnes' recent past, offering a refreshingly straightforward collection of songs under the unlikely influence of '60s and '70s FM radio roots rockers like Dylan, Neil Young, and the Stones. Instead of the usual process of Barnes playing all the instruments themself and layering their own vocals with endless digital recording, the sessions for Lousy with Sylvianbriar took place in an almost entirely live analog studio setting, with session musicians quickly working on their parts and going direct to tape. The resultant recordings have the same loose yet lucid feeling as Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, or early albums by the Band, with the songs deep in a classic rock vein while still touched with Barnes' ever-obtuse lyrical spirals. Beginning with the slide guitar twang of album opener "Fugitive Air," almost all of the indie electro postures that defined the band before vanish, replaced with a Mick Jagger sway circa "Jigsaw Puzzle," updated with Barnes' penchant for vivid lyrical imagery equal parts gorgeous and grotesque. This rootsy swaggering continues on the Dylanesque "Belle Glade Missionaries" and "Hegira Émigré," matching greasy Highway 61 Revisited boogie rock rhythms with glowing harmonies and deceptively dark lyrics. Vocalist Rebecca Cash shows up throughout the album, lending bright lead vocals to the Emmylou Harris/Gram Parsons-modeled country ballad "Raindrop in My Skull." Barnes taps into these unexpected influences without submitting to them completely, trying each one on like a flimsy costume not quite capable of covering the core elements of Barnes' own songwriting personality. The unsettling imagery, buttery basslines, and meandering key changes that have been Of Montreal staples since the start fit surprisingly well into the dusty traditional rock framework of Lousy with Sylvianbriar, offering a breath of fresh air from the pleasant but convoluted rush of the past several albums. Swapping out the sonic and mental clutter for a host of centered, unconfused rock tunes is a curveball move, for sure, but the end product is one of the most memorable, lasting, and relatable albums in Of Montreal's extensive catalog, and easily one of the best. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 12, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records

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Rock - Released October 23, 2007 | Sybaritic Peer

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Indie Pop - Released March 7, 2006 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 27, 2015 | Polyvinyl Records

Two years after 2013's Lousy with Sylvianbriar, Kevin Barnes and crew present an album that takes a distinct turn in sound and musical inspiration with the brasher and more patently personal Aureate Gloom. Written in the aftermath of a separation from his wife of over ten years, it was recorded directly to tape with the same central five-piece lineup -- Barnes, JoJo Glidewell, Bennett Lewis, Bob Parins, and Clayton Rychlik (plus Kishi Bashi lending strings and vocals) -- as the excellent, roots rock-influenced Sylvianbriar. On Aureate Gloom, instead of Dylan, Young, and Jagger, it's Iggy, Reed, and Warhol filtered through the unique kaleidoscope of Of Montreal. Barnes has said that the '70s New York City of CBGB, including artists such as Television and Patti Smith, was an inspiration for the record; he spent two weeks in the City ruminating about musicians and scenes of its past while exploring and writing. Unlike Sylvianbriar, which seemed like a departure, Aureate Gloom takes many of the band's more recent notable attributes -- verbosity, funkiness, experimentalism, grit, flair, meandering modulations, confessional lyrics -- and funnels them into a petulant stew. No one element will surprise dedicated fans, but the intensity and hard-edged presentation may. If Lousy with Sylvianbriar is Of Montreal's Badlands, Aureate Gloom is its Taxi Driver. The record's title appears in lyrics from the opening track, "Bassem Sabry," named after the Egyptian journalist and activist who died (under suspicious circumstances) in 2014 at age 31. The only song on the album not drawing on Barnes' own life, it addresses the work and fallout of standing up to oppression. The "Diamond Dogs" Bowie-esque song is funky and infectious with a chorus that Barnes somehow makes singably catchy, "I'll never follow no kind of master's voice/The mutinous tramp of cold voltage crucifixion is my conduit." The more deadpan delivery of "Last Rites at the Jane Hotel" evokes a cross of Velvet Underground and T. Rex as the album gets to Barnes' more intimate lyrics: "Do I bother you with those kinds of vapid questions anymore?/I wanna matter, I wanna be your friend, not a poison/This kind of love, our kind of love is so demoralizing." Later, "Monolithic Egress," with alternating staccato-strummed and moaning electric guitar, meandering bassline, and intermittent punk segments, is an emotional and musical roller coaster. The anguished guitars and synths on "Virgilian Lots" support oscillating vocal tones ("I'm grieving for you, my love, and I don't understand what's going on"), and no thesaurus is needed to understand the straight-up agitated punk rock implosion on "Chthonian Dirge for Uruk the Other." Despite its often dense and disoriented lyrics -- or perhaps because of them -- some listeners will connect to the emotional frustration and vulnerability of Aureate Gloom (look no further than the record's closing words, "Oh no!"). The combination of the raw, tempestuous styles, Barnes' own capricious musical tendencies, and the regrettable subject matter of Aureate Gloom has Of Montreal at its rockiest and most intense. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Indie Pop - Released April 12, 2005 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 5, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records

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