Aureate Gloom by Of Montreal

Aureate Gloom by Of Montreal

Seth Montpelier '18, STAFF WRITER

Of Montreal’s thirteenth album proves they’ve got staying power. They’ve lasted far longer than the rest of their Elephant 6 comrades, because they continue to recreate themselves. It’s been almost twenty years since frontman Kevin Barnes emerged with vaudeville, Kinks-y ditties. The style changed drastically, perhaps not for the better in the sense of sound, but for the better in the sense of creativity.

There, of course, are some key aspects of Mr. Barnes present; imagery containing witches, demons, and mutants (a quality of the more recent band). There are surreal metaphors, strange chord changes-like the Shins, that make the songs almost impossible to sing along to (not an insult). Barnes has dabbled in the twee side of the Beatles and, more recently, the funk of Prince. Now, he has made a tribute to ‘70’s New York City. The sound is reminiscent of the Talking Heads, Lou Reed, and Bowie this time ‘round, focusing on the rhythm guitar. While the last album focused on more ‘70’s acoustic rock, like Dylan and Young, now the band sounds like they were auditioning for CBGBs.

The songs flow from one to the next. Opening with disco rhythm that brings “Another Brick in the Wall” to mind, Kevin’s tenor on “Bassem Sabry” is alarmingly loud,  and soon turns into an ‘80’s-like track. On “Last Rites At the Jane Hotel” we hear the Talking Heads with a Reed snarl. The lyrics are less obscure now; this one’s a bitter break-up song with words like “I wanna matter/I wanna be your friend/not a poison.” The lyrics are straightforward, but still powerful. Kevin’s enormous vocabulary is still intact. “Empyrean Abattoir” begins like it was from the band’s Sunlandic Twins, then goes into shoegaze, before ending in straight punk. “Aluminum Crown” starts slow and echo-heavy before going into a song that would pass for Television, complete with a Tom Verlaine-style vocal. The end of the first side is “Virgilian Lots.”

“Certainly not neutral, but I lost my direction,” Kevin sings. Brief codas have an “And I Love Her”-Latino sound before going into a tribute to Franz Ferdinand.

The next side has plenty more songs and plenty more peculiar song titles. “Monolithic Egress” is Patti Smith with a hint of Beastie Boys. “Apollyon of Blue Room” has riff like “Seven Nation Army” before having the faintest glimmer of the old Kinks-infused days.  “I sense she’s finally turned the key,” sings Barnes. The other key track here is “Estocadas,” opening with a Costello rhythm. It is an anthem of jealousy, complete with gorgeous strings that turn the song into a spaghetti Western. “Chthonian Dirge For Uruk The Other” opens as a raucous out of tune hardcore punk track before going into a sound collage of headphone loops, chants, and Metal Machine Music. The album closes with “Like Ashoka’s Inferno of Memory,” which hops back and forth from another hard rock part to 60s psychedelia to a quiet guitar picking middle to an Indian-inspired solo to a Transformer rhythm before going out on an homage to “Psycho Killer.”

On what seems like 30 tracks, this LP is a welcome addition to the of Montreal catalog. The days of The Gay Parade to  Satanic Panic in the Attic are probably gone forever, but recreations of  that sound would probably begin to lose their punch anyway. This album is predictably unpredictable. There are a handful of aimless moments where Kevin seems lost in the chaos, but there are also moments of sheer brilliance. of Montreal will remain relevant for years to come because, now at their thirteenth album, they show no signs of sputtering on creativity.


3.5 out of 5 Dolphins