REVIEW: Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom


ofmontreal-aureateLook, as a journalist(ish), all I have is my integrity. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I am approaching the new album by Of Montreal with an open mind, what John Locke would call a tabula rasa. The truth is, I’ve listened to Of Montreal many times before. Given my love for other bands in the so-called “Elephant 6 Collective” (Beulah, Neutral Milk Hotel), listening to the longtime outlet for frontman Kevin Barnes’s insanity was inevitable. I remember picking up Satanic Panic in the Attic back in 2004 and being astounded by both the amount of musical ideas Barnes is able to convey, and his utter lack of conviction for any of them.

The band (Barnes + whoever is around) bobs and weaves, touching upon world music, glam rock and Low-era Bowie without fully submerging themselves in any genre and gaining real footing. As a result, each 45-minute album seems filled to the brim; an exhausting war of attrition fought with funky disco beats. If the Russians had had Kevin Barnes back in 1812, their notoriously harsh winters may not have been necessary in subduing Napoleon and destroying the French Allied Army.

Eleven years later, I am chock full of student loan debt, we’re seriously considering putting a Bush in the White House, and Of Montreal sounds exactly the same, which is to say that they don’t sound like anything at all. Aureate Gloom (a frustratingly esoteric title which kind of tells you all you need to really know), in the shear breadth of its scope, has some fun ideas, to be sure. “Last Rites at the Jane Hotel” begins with a winning T-Rex swagger that it quickly drops in favor of second-tier psychedelic weirdness.

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And yet, I don’t hate Of Montreal. I’m kind of glad they exist. For every misguided idea, Barnes drops an indelible hook or two. I find the album tedious, but I still tentatively recommend the band in general. And check out the Elephant 6 artists (Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah, Apples in Stereo, Circulatory System, Olivia Tremor Control and Elf Power) if you’re interested in neo-psychedelica and experimental music.

Release Date: March 3, 2015

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