On his latest album, Kevin Barnes returns of Montreal to its one-man-band roots on UR FUN, yet still manages to create a Technicolor thrill ride making the most of his experience manipulating a studio to his whims in order to interpret his current state of being.
Which is just a really fancy way of saying that UR FUN sounds like deeply personal record.
In the past Barnes has happily played the glam chameleon, and while many have interpreted these proclivities as being rather Bowie-esque, I think he’s closer in spirit to Prince as an artist who hones in on a particularly rich vein and then mines it from a million different angles over the course of a career. These doesn’t mean to imply any sense of stasis—it is possible to return to the same musical well and draw out different universes of sounds as you do so.
UR FUN was also created in the midst of an odd dichotomy as Barnes seems to be in a healthy romantic and artistic partnership—albeit with the expected quirks you’ve come to expect from Barnes—with Christina Schneider of Locate S,1, and that stability allows him new levels of introspection. On the other side is the world we live in with skies on fire and catastrophe seeming to lurk around every corner. It sounds slight, but it would be wholly fair to slot this in the category of post-apocalyptic party music.
Don’t worry, even with all this sentiment and fear and passion mixed in, UR FUN is the most fun Barnes has sounded in years. I credit the tension between the two largest forces impacting his life at the moment, since it provides a breaking point that results in a pure release of sound that fits alongside but unlike any other of Montreal album. It sounds odd, but if I was trying to introduce someone to the band, this is now the album I’d give them first to acclimate them with the group. For a band well over two decades into their career, that’s a stunning accomplishment.
of Montreal shows have a reputation for being glittery, theatric, and immersive affairs, however on more recent tours Barnes has dialed down the drama a bit, so I’m not sure what to expect when he brings of Montreal to Bottom Lounge tonight, March 12. What I can tell you to expect is an evening of twists and turns with a soundtrack that will keep you dancing long after the final note fades away.