don't have a lot to prove. Thirteen albums deep in their catalog, the band has managed to fit a variety of genres under their belt while continuing to write entertaining pop-tinged psychedelic songs. The collective is usually far more important than the whole, as the songs tend to blur into one another taking a listener on a trip into the mind of front-man Kevin Barnes. With each album encapsulating a different thematic mood, Aureate Gloom
does not stray from the formula, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing. With a leaning interest in the 70's NYC punk scene, the rocked out jams mix well with the trippy tropes the band is accustomed to.
Album opener "Bassem Sabry", named after the slain Egyptian journalist, starts the album off on a rather punk note. A heavy buzzsaw guitar rips through the speaker system before settling into one-two dance groove. Barnes is out to let the people know how he feels about politicians singing "I never followed no kind of master's voice," before pleading the audience into a "if you hear me, say yeah," call of response. His political message is loud and clear, and particularly strange. The feel good vibes from Of Montreal are missing, but listening to the instrumental doesn't show it. Barnes continues his moody behavior on the follow-up "Last Rites At The Jane Hotel." Musically moving in that same distorted guitar sound, the song details a troubled relationship with Barnes pokes fun at himself and his lover revealing, "you say you love me though just like you I'm too shady/Knowing what you know is must be hard to trust someone so similar to yourself." The melodies are pretty in spite of the harsh lyrics and the unpleasant guitar tones, but the juxtaposition keeps it interesting.
Later on the album, Barnes addresses the separation he had with his wife. Confused by the supposed change in her personality Barnes sings, "Now I amuse myself with tedious form of Virgilian Lots/Like your neo-feminist divinations," in the most bitter way on "Virgilian Lots." Barnes, probably unwise for offensive lyrics about feminism in such a politically correct environment, shines the brightest on the pen this time around. Searing lyrics such as "I waited for you on our feral streets, smelling other people's piss / I bet you think you see me backwards, babe," on "Empyrean Abattoir" display an unsatisfied man. On "Aluminum Dreams" the repetition of, "Troubled dreams, troubled dreams/I've been cursed by troubled dreams," in the chorus does not only sound truthful, but important. The record is drenched in bad vibes, even in the sunniest aspects of the music. It's as if Barnes felt compelled to switch up his style, using the punk sound to fit his bleak words, without catering too far off from what fans were expecting.
The new album isn't groundbreaking by any means, but it is highly personal. Barnes divulges private matters as well as political statements in a packed 10 song album in a little over 40 minutes. The aggressive guitar work and dense lyrical topics could be attributed to New York City, the state of the world, or even the music that inspired this album. Regardless Of Montreal have added another solid addition to their already well-built discography. While it probably won't win over many new fans, the established fan base will be excited to add another vinyl to their collection and catch the psychedelic group on tour.
Listen to "Empyrean Abattoir" off Aureate Gloom