of Montreal – I Feel Safe With You, Trash
Released March 5th, 2021 on Sybaritic Peer Records
of Montreal’s seventeenth album gets weird. If you don’t know the band – really, frontman Kevin Barnes and a rotating cast of accomplices – you may just shrug your shoulders and move on past that sentence without really thinking about it. For anyone who has more exposure to of Montreal beyond 2007’s classic Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? pay attention: this gets pretty weird. The most obvious touchstones from the band’s discography are Skeletal Lamping, False Priest, and maybe the odder parts of Aureate Gloom. It’s more off-the-wall than any of those records though; on this record Barnes seems to bounce from idea to idea with abandon, not bothering to polish up the melody into something accessible or hammer out a consistent, coherent theme to the songs. Also, it’s a double album. This is an hour and six minutes of Kevin Barnes being hyper weird.
It’s strangely refreshing to hear it, too. of Montreal have been a comfortingly oddball presence since the late 1990s, and one that has always returned sounding like something else removed from whatever they sounded like previously. The only constants have been Barnes’ underlying songwriting, which are consistently literate, unstable, and horny, like a left twitter shitposter come alive musically. He’s done lo-fi recordings, shiny indie pop, Prince-esque funk, alt-country, lysergic psychedelia, and touches of electronic music, and on I Feel Safe With You, Trash he does most of it all again, from different angles. He lets his voice drone at times, becoming part of the overall song; previously it might have been a lead melody but now he’s content to just vibe in the music itself. Whereas previous a number of latter-day of Montreal records have asked the question “what if Kevin Barnes sounded like this?” this record asks “what does Kevin Barnes sound like, in general?” It’s a retrospective record, but one where the underlying sound has been cranked up to max. If you already like of Montreal or just psychedelic weirdness in general, this will be one to jot down.