There is something vaguely hallucinogenic about this band. Of Montreal have been around for a while. Actually from Athens Georgia, the band derives its name from a failed romantic encounter between front man Kevin Barnes and a woman “of Montreal“. The surreal title only adds to the loopy charm of the band. But they are no bunch of musical jokesters. Of Montreal have been putting out great material since 1996 and they have a large and loyal following to prove it.
On April 25, 2013, of Montreal posted an announcement on their Facebook page stating that a new album entitled Lousy with Sylvianbriar had been completed. The post went into detail about the album’s conception, including that Barnes’ writing occurred while on a “self imposed isolation experiment in San Francisco” in early 2013. They were influenced by Sylvia Plath, the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and the Flying Burrito Brothers in their writing. The album was recorded with a new lineup of musicians, including Jojo Glidewell, Nicolas Dobbratz, Bennett Lewis, and Bob Parins, with Clayton Rychlik and Kevin Barnes as the only returning members. The album and subsequent tour also featured Rebecca Cash on vocals. Lousy with Sylvianbriar was released on October 8, 2013. On July 10, 2013, the band released the first single from the album, entitled “Fugitive Air.” On July 31, 2013, they announced that they would be touring their new album in October and November. This tour featured the same musicians that performed on the album, instead of longtime band members such as Bryan Poole and Dottie Alexander.
By means of a Facebook post and a Kevin Barnes interview conducted by Stereogum.com, of Montreal’s album Aureate Gloom was announced. The record was influenced by “the mid-to-late 1970s music scene in New York,” including bands such as Talking Heads and Led Zeppelin. The album captures Barnes’ emotions borne from their separation from their wife of 11 years and its aftermath. Barnes described the album as being “all over the place musically”, lending to its reflection of their mindset during the time of its creation. The album was released March 3, 2015.
In August 2016, of Montreal released Innocence Reaches, which incorporated new, EDM-inspired sounds, as well as the progressive rock sounds of the previous two albums. For the tour following the album’s release, bassist Davey Pierce returned to the band, replacing Bob Parins.
On January 13, 2017, of Montreal released a new EP by surprise, entitled Rune Husk. On March 9, 2018, the album White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood was released on Polyvinyl, with singer Barnes explaining that the sound was influenced by “extended dance mixes” from the 1980s.
The band released its sixteenth studio album, UR FUN, on January 17, 2020.
If you aren’t familiar with this band, you need to be. They’re all over the place musically, but pull it off with a goodly deal of aplomb. It’s a very fast moving hour and certainly can benefit from several listenings on your part. And they have a Patreon page too – so, get your spare change ready.
I’d play it loud anyway – it’s just been one of those kinds of days.