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CD of The Week

Week of 1/20/20

    of Montreal - UR FUN (Polyvinyl)

    On his 16th full length album, prolific multi-instrumentalist, and creator of the neo-psychedelic band of Montreal, Kevin Barnes is relishing in new found love. In a seemingly joyful relationship with songwriter Christina Schneider from Locate S, 1, our hero has singularly created ten slick pop gems to reflect how love can flourish in this world of hate and grief. Opener "Peace To All Freaks" kicks off the party with genuine 80's-synth influenced by the likes of Howard Jones or Cyndi Lauper. On the delightfully upbeat "Gypsy That Remains," he croons "We've survived all of the fighting, all the secrets, all the games, Because we truly love each other, we're not into throwing blame." His sardonic wit and whimsy shines on the ironically anthemic "Getting God's Attention By Being An Atheist," encouraging everyone to explore their own human experience.

    Obscure and cryptic references still abound in Barnes' lyrics on UR FUN, but never to the point of snobbery. His intellect has enhanced most of his previous work, but here the focus is mostly on fun. However, if you were hoping for a super sunny album through and through, then the latter portion of the album reveals that darkness is never far from Barnes' psyche. On "St. Sebastian," he cathartically takes aim at a former friend turned nemesis. "Deliberate Self-Harm Ha Ha" blames the (almost) titular topic of cutting on society and the neuroses we get from media and politics. Speaking of politics, "Don't Let Me Die In America" causes some serious agita asking "Have I lost my country because I have no love for piggy-piggy fascists?"

    Not that of Montreal's past output isn't accessible, but UR FUN feels more relatable than most. After 20+ years of flying the freak flag, Barnes is more concise, less haughty, and laser focused on creating art that summarily showcases his talent; stripping away (some of) the layers to reveal a deeply personal reflection of the man who would be King of the Freaks.

    Don't miss of Montreal at Union Transfer in Philadelphia on March 6th.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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