Of Montreal would be quite capable of pumping out standardised pop hits. However, such is their make up that the off kilter whether it is in the various musical tides or the surreal lyrical swathes it can turn the relatively usual to the incomparably unusual in the snap of one’s fingers. The dozen tracks of Innocence Reaches does not disappoint with its smorgasbord of sonorous styles and lexicon of lively language.
There is commerciality aplenty in their mix but a move from those norms in to less subtle fields takes the listener on a range of journeys within one tune let alone the span of an album. Throughout this ride the punter can detect a multitude of influences. Let’s Relate kicks off proceedings as a revved up Kraftwerk meets Depeche Mode on an electric 80’s adventure. The quirky and assertive Different with Girls delivers its sermon and sonics in a robotic Euro spin of Kid Creole & the Coconuts-and, with a modification of the lyrics it deserves top end chart status. Gratuitous Abysses has the youthful drive of Iggy Pop and Sparks as a glam slam ensues. Then we slip in to My Fair Lady-a Luke Haines tinged (in title and taste) radio friendly piece. The white funk with rock meanderings of Les chants de Maldoror is a hymn according to the gospel of George Clinton split with an LCD Soundsystem sensibility. A sport and a Pastime in its jive aims straight for the cerebral of the teen market, although underneath the surface there is so much more happening. Ambassador Bridge pays homage to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys and then technology takes us away from theose close harmonies. Def Pact comes across like a 70’s Pink Floyd opus as Chaos Arpegiating morphs in to a contemporary stab at Syd Barrett and Lou Reed in some otherworldly unison. Meanwhile, there are similar components on Nursing Slopes but the overwhelming feel here is of the latter day pastoral wanderings of XTC.
The ability to defy simple pigeonholing is a skill especially as there is quality in the quantity. However, an almighty angular approach ices the seven minute plus force that is Chap Pilot which stands proud and loud! This the PIL/Neu!/Primal Scream hybrid thrives on a repetitive stomp and collective chant but it is a winner and closes affairs on the ultimate aural high!
Sometimes the artist has to intentionally court a little chaos in order to make one of the best, weirdest, brightest, catchiest, and most inventive albums in an already incredible catalogue. Of Montreal leader Kevin Barnes brings a lot to the table-and, he bonds an array of feelings and influences in order to create a masterpiece. This long player is a mark of two decades of mercurial creative mania. 60s psych-pop, funk, plus 70’s glam/prog plus the paints of contemporary electronica, indie and Top 40 craft. Then those textures are coated with words that can devour personal pain and flights of fantasy touched by the wands of cultural capitals such as San Francisco, New York City and Paris. Barnes also assesses his marital breakdown and the single status that has altered his outlook on life. Let’s not forget the kitchen sink, because whatever this review offers your own encounter with this record will bring a great deal more to the audience.
14 albums in and the modern world needs Of Montreal more than ever as their universal acceptability of everyone means that their Innocence Reaches us all.