Published Jan 14, 2020Of Montreal albums were starting to seem interchangeable, as the prolific project's recent catalogue had become one big blur of inscrutable album titles and colourful cover illustrations. As good as songwriter Kevin Barnes often is, does the world really need another Of Montreal album called, like, Vestigial Deletions of Caeculus or something? And that's what makes their 16th LP, UR FUN, so refreshing, as it dumbs the band down in all the right ways.
From the "Take on Me"-style giddiness of opener "Peace to All Freaks" through to the carnival-esque electro-rock of closer "20th Century Schizofriendic Revengoid-man," this is some of the most immediately gratifying music Of Montreal have made in years. The sugary hooks are pure bubblegum, while the (relatively) straightforward lyrics tackle relationships and mental health — meaning that UR FUN bears some passing similarities to Of Montreal's cutesy '90s origins, albeit with synths instead of acoustic guitars.
A press release describes UR FUN as a "public diary" about Barnes' relationship with Christina Schneider of the band Locate S,1. Sure enough, Locate S,1 appears on the album as a featured guest, and Barnes and Schneider are locked in an embrace on the '80s-esque cover artwork. It's remarkably candid branding — so when Barnes sings about non-monogamy on "Polyaneurism," or about romantic intimacy on "You've Had Me Everywhere," it packs some extra autobiographical punch.
While Of Montreal's brand of pop music has often been brainy and verbose, these songs offer simpler pleasures. UR FUN is, well, fun. (Polyvinyl)