of Montreal releases new indie-tronic album “Innocence Reaches”
Following an almost automated tradition of releasing a new album annually, Kevin Barnes has released yet another psychedelic indie-tronic project under his long-time moniker, of Montreal, on Aug. 12.
What can only be described as a femme-core fever pop dream sequence, “Innocence Reaches” breaks up Barnes’ streak of Beatles, symphonic and Beach Boys-influenced indie twang he’s garnered for the past two LP releases, “Aureate Gloom” and “Lousy with Sylvianbriar.” The result is a sound that is inspired, new and refreshing.
It’s important to note that the album art is a slew of graphic female sexuality, too explicit to leave out for your family to discover. However, it does add outstanding color to your vinyl collection.
“Let’s Relate” kicks off the album, emulating a European dance floor hit with low bass and swelling synth leads that back simple lyrics.
“How do you identify?/ How do you ID/ Are you something fashion wild?/ Talk to me.”
These hyper-metro sentiments are delivered perfectly queer as they always are with Barnes, whose sexuality is still seemingly in flux. The pre-chorus in “Let’s Relate” follows modern pop standards of self-love and acceptance by paying homage to the feminist ideal that women and men can be in love with themselves. It’s a small yet powerful line.
“I already like you/ I like that you like you.”
The single “Different for Girls,” which was released in June prior to the Aug. LP release, sets the tone for a more feminist-centric attitude. Lyrics that strike down the culture of powerful men dominating women in social and work settings make up the bulk of this single, while also comparing some women to demons.
“For every one psycho bitch, there’s 10,000 agro pricks.”
In an August interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Barnes talked about the recent shift of influence for this new release and how he transcended a barrier he felt was against him musically.
“Forever I’ve been detached from current music. I got into this bubble of only being in some other time period,” Barnes said. “I came up picking apart the Beach Boys, the Beatles and symphonic pieces. But last year, I was hearing Jack Ü, Chairlift, Arca and others, thinking about low end and sound collage. It was an extra layer to geek out to.”
The tracks on “Innocence Reaches” alternate between pop and indie rock, with oozy atmospheric tracks like “My Fair Lady” and “Ambassador Bridge” to add an extra layer of cerebral ephemera that slows it down.
The vestiges of rockabilly Dylan-core sneak their way into the tracks. Songs like “Gratuitous Abysses” and “Les Chants de Maldoror” still lean heavily on driving, crunchy guitars that were staples in previously mentioned recent releases, but they aren’t as striking as the more electronic cuts.
Possibly the best track on “Innocence” is “A Sport and a Pastime,” an interpretation of EDM music where vocals are chopped up and instrumentals are low and heavy with catchy lead synths to really drive the melody. This song could easily blend into Top 40 Radio had it not been for Barnes penchant for brutal, self-deprecating lyrics.
The new release still obtains its continuities from previous LP’s. Barnes seemingly unrelenting anguish toward his estranged ex-wife Nina has been ever apparent since “Hissing Fauna, are you the Destroyer?” (2007). This cuts deepest in “Def Pacts,” where Barnes belittles her with some of the harsher lyrics on the album.
“Stop acting like a victim, stop conceding defeat/ it’s so tedious to watch someone you care for keep failing themselves.”
The B-sides on this album are good and catchy, but there’s nothing that truly sticks out. With “Chap Pilot” ending it off. A slightly longer and monotonous electronic track, “Innocence Reaches” is enjoyable for its strong cuts, but as a whole it’s not so satisfying.
It still lacks the operatic grand flow implemented in “Skeletal Lamping” (2008). Where “Skeletal” created gelatinous and hellish landscapes for the ear to be baptized in, “Innocence Reaches” fits into Barnes’ discography as another pop-driven drone, similar to “False Priest” (2010) but less captivating. There’s no intertwining storyline to bring it all together in the end.