January 17, 2020 Of Montreal – UR FUN (Album Review)
The outfit formed by Kevin Barnes (singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist) in 1996, in Athens, Georgia, United States, Of Montreal has long proven to be among the more prolific of Alternative Rock. Currently consisting of Barnes and Clayton Richlik (drums, keyboards, guitar, bass), Jojo Glidewell (keyboards), Davey Pearce (bass), and Nicolas Dobbratz (keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar), Of Montreal has been rather prolific through the years, releasing 15 studio albums over a two decade span between 1997 and 2018. Now, starting off a new decade in style, they release their 16th studio album UR FUN, on Friday, January 17th, 2020, via Polyvinyl Record.
Complete with 80s’ styled production, UR FUN opens with its carrier single, the upbeat “Peace to All Freaks,” whose mix of melody and mire is enough to lure both the commercially drawn and the adventurous. The Dance Pop sensibilities continue with the ensuing “Polyaneurysm”—playful and tuneful, nostalgic and contemporary—echoing traces of Blur (“Tracy Jacks”), Elkland (“Apart”), and The Killers (“Read My Mind”). Another glitter-glam, disco-dance track comes next in the form of the provocatively titled “Get God’s Attention by Being an Atheist.” The pace and mood then initially turns slow and contemplative with “Gypsy that Remains,” but whose beat eventually picks up, aligning itself once again with the overall summery, tropical fun vibes of UR FUN—with sprinkles of gypsy melodies for good measure.
Still in dance-floor mode, Of Montreal albeit switches to something a bit romantic—“You’ve Had Me Everywhere” is a mid-tempo meant for merging bodies in the dim-lit corners of the discotheque. A further swing into soulful swagger plays next—the sweet and smooth “Carmillas of Love.”
Barnes and his comrades then throw in the blender a bit of Britpop quirkiness and Alternative Rock’s brashness, resulting in “Don’t Let Me Die in America,” which will fit well onto a playlist that includes similarly fun tunes such as The B-52ss “Planet Claire,” The Go-go’s’ “We Got the Beat,” and Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America.” The next track—“St. Sebastian” stands out with its marked change of style—Synthpop at its classic sound and best; it will certainly remind the initiated of the likes of The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette,” IGO’s “Synth Love,” and Rational Youth’s “Saturdays in Silesia.”
Near the end of the set, Of Montreal becomes slightly experimental with Deliberate Self-Harm Ha Ha,” infusing elements of New Romantic, Gothic New Wave, and Synthpop. Finally, Barnes, Richlik, Glidewell, Pearce, and Dobbratz wrap up the fun with the chaotic, Grunge-glazed fun of “20th Century Schizofriendic Revengoid-man,” which—many might not know—is a pun on the classic ’60s Progressive Rock track “21st Century Schizoid Man” by the mighty King Crimson.
Already on their sixteenth offering yet Of Montreal does not show any sign of slowing down. With its new album, the enduring band ensures its place at the starting point of the new decade. Surely, Of Montreal’s 2020s phase has only begun. That is why Cryptic Rock gives UR FUN 4 out of 5 stars.