Of Montreal's 16th album 'UR FUN' review: A happy-sounding autobiographical synth tapestry with morbid humor
Of Montreal will be unveiling their glam synth-pop album on January 17 featuring a deeper look into frontman Kevin Barnes and Christina Schneider's relationship. The musical overtone of each song bounces with effects that are both dense and pleasing to the ears, yet carry morbid humor and defiance
Indie pop group, of Montreal, will be unveiling their new LP 'UR FUN' on January 17, marking the band's 16th studio album to date. The Athens, Georgia sensation was founded by frontman Kevin Barnes in 1996 and has unleashed humourous psychedelics and entertaining theatrics upon the world with tapestries upon tapestries of melodies and electronics since.
Although the tone of the music garbs itself within playful and happier-sounding scores, Barnes has revealed a dark autobiographical of sorts of his past failed relationships since the 2007 LP 'Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?' 'UR FUN' conveys a followup message and diary entry to the previous album 'White is Relic/Irrealis Mood', giving further insight into the relationship of Kevin Barnes and songwriting partner Christina Schneider of Locate S,1.
'White is Relic/Irrealis Mood' revealed the couple's new relationship and "If that was the falling-in-love record, then this ('UR FUN') is the staying-in-love record", as a press release puts it. Barnes delves deeper into relationship highs and lows with 'UR FUN' and has been embarking on an autobiographical journey with a few albums for a while now.
The singer has enjoyed bringing pop and glam to the world with his onstage persona of colorful costumes and drag, evident in some of the band's music videos, although in recent tours he has chosen to lose the attire.
The singer has embraced his candid vulnerability and recorded 'UR FUN' completely alone in his home studio, working 12-plus hour days on the ten-track harmonious album. The previous albums had the singer with his band and a number of collaborations with other artists.
Barnes drew inspiration from Cyndi Lauper’s 'She’s So Unusual' and Janet Jackson’s 'Control' and tirelessly pushed for each song to be single-worthy, portraying them as youthful synth-pop glam and contemporary '80s dance nostalgia. The songs see-saw with mild warping slurs between major and minor chords, a psychedelic illustration of the joys and woes that come with relationships and the state of the world.
The musical overtone of each song bounces with effects that are both dense and pleasing to the ears, yet carry morbid humor and defiance to the rules of music. 'UR FUN' is daring and multidimensional with its adult-oriented lyrics, carried by its many layers of musical antics and nonchalant tones.
The album’s opener and first single, 'Peace To All Freaks' is a “protest song against totalitarianism, familial terrorism and wastefulness in all its forms”, says Barnes, that expresses love to the outcasts and the gentle people in this world, leaving us with a reminder: “Hush, hush. Don’t let’s be cynical. Don’t let’s be bitter. If you feel like you can’t do it for yourself then do it for us”.
'Polyaneurism' features Barnes meditating on the ups and downs of polyamory and unconventional relationships: “Playing musical lovers is starting to feel kind of kitsch. If you want monogamy are you just like some basic b***h?”
Barnes reveals the song 'Get God’s Attention by Being an Atheist' is about “the pleasures of childlike destruction and reckless joy seeking.” 'UR FUN' reveals another side with its literary and cultural references.
Barnes’ lyrics drew attention to the French novel 'The Story of the Eye in the past' with 'The Past Is a Grotesque Animal' in 2008, and, likewise, 'UR FUN' offers nods to the films of Italian horror filmmaker Mario Bava, Gary Indiana's novel 'Horse Crazy', Panamanian pop star El General, 80’s sci-fi movie 'Liquid Sky', Big Star’s cover of 'Femme Fatale', French death metal group Death Throne, and the Brazilian love song 'Cucurucucu Paloma' by Caetano Veloso, to name a few.
'UR FUN' teazes its listeners with darker numbers towards the end of the album and begs questions of self-reflection, albeit the entire LP rests with a message of fun optimism that would be irresistible to not slip in between your next party playlist.