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coverpic flag US - Georgia - Full Moon 228 - 04/04/15

of Montreal
Aureate Gloom
Polyvinyl Record Co.

Can you believe it, Aureate Gloom is of Montreal's 13th (!) studio album since their 1997 debut, Chery Peel. Fronted by the flamboyant bandleader and songwriter Kevin Barnes, who still waves the flag, or the psychedelic oM banner high up in the air: He manages to hold the torch so that the flame will not burn out - to avoid moisture to get into his little, magic box holding his secret pop powder.

Barnes and his of Montreal are still deep into their often spectacular (and sometimes plainly annoying) world of pop schizophrenia. Their mix-tape of musical styles and genres is eternally spinning, revolving and shifting. Like a merry-go-round pop-carousel gone wild and mad. Taking off like a colourful UFO destined for its home planet somewhere far out there... The of Montreal team has shifted its line-up over the years. For this new album, Barnes (guitars, vocals) has been backed by Jojo Glidewell (keys, synths), Bennet Lewis (guitars), Clayton Rychlik (drums, percussion, clarinet, vocals), Bob Parins (bass, clarinet), and Kishi Bashi (strings, vocals). The attitude and spirit of their music is still pop with a psychedelic tint. The late 60s/early 70s pop is still present, but oM's palette is wider and richer. Barnes and oM create a wild and wonderful mixture, blending the 60/70s pop elements with electronica, with hints of funk, glam, and afrobeat-like influences and vibes. Barnes can still sound like a young David Bowie, and at times oM almost sound like a young, poppy, cocky Rolling Stones, almost, but maybe also a bit like Marc Bolan/T-Rex and The Small Faces. And, of course The Kinks. At other times, some post-punk pop/new wave shines through. Howard Devoto's Magazine comes to mind (a little less chill-cold, that is), even though Barnes' voice sometimes reminds me more of Devoto's ex-Buzzcock-comrade Pete Shelley. Add The Only Ones, as well. In addition, the Kinks-of-the-90s, Blur. Yes, maybe even Pulp, but with a different singer.

Aureate Gloom glides on starting with the somewhat glitchy, funky "Bassem Sabry". According to the press sheet, Barnes and his players have 'carved their own niche: establishing themselves as a band that thrills fans with compelling live performances, delights critics with their constant innovations, and continually showcases their musical evolution by drawing from a different set of influences for each album'. Yes, their albums differ from release to release. oM is not a band where all the songs, all the albums sound the same, even though some of their songs/album do resemble and relate to each other. Kevin Barnes is a standout songwriter and frontman of the dizzyingly whimsical and dazzlingly playful kind, and he seems to be insanely creative. Never resting, never relaxing. Always coming up with pop from the flowering wild side. Armed with a rich and adventurous lyrical shrine, out of where he pulls his weird and colourful stories, bringing them to life - backed with striking melodies, thrilling riffs, and chanting rhythms. Barnes uses his life, his experiences and his dreams. His imagination seems never-ending and ever floating, bringing a growing number of characters to the world of oM. The songs are rich and bursting with life and energy. Yes, the oM gallery and menagerie is striking with 'lyrics that shift from adopted personas to invented alter egos to unobstructed views directly into his psyche'.

At first I wasn't sure about Aureate Gloom but the album with its ten songs keeps growing and growing. The tracks flower and take off in all directions. The smashing song "Virgilian Lots" is brilliant, and a stand out-track. Well, there are more gold here, and the album climbs and lifts up the ladder to the top 5 of oM albums. Yes, I think so. To name some of the favourite tracks, I would mention "Last Rites At The Jane Hotel", "Aluminum Crown", "Empyrean Abattoir", "Apollyon Of Blue Room", and the raw and rocking "Chthonian Dirge For Uruk The Other". The closing, epic "Like Ashoka's Inferno Of Memory" is a progressive and experimental movement through pop and rock sound. Blistering! I haven't been up to date and 'on-board' the oM vessel for the last couple of albums, but Aureate Gloom for sure welcomes me back on board the ship. When Capt. Barnes and his crew invite you to a 'rock boat' party, I will gladly attend as a deck cadet.

Copyright © 2015 Howard Popeye e-mail address

You may also want to check out our of Montreal articles/reviews: Satanic Panic in the Attic, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Skeletal Lamping.

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