By now, Of Montreal is a fairly well-known name and with good reason. The band has been producing music for two decades now and have poured out several fantastic albums. Their latest release, Innocence Reaches is a culmination of the band’s history. The good, the bad, and the ugly shine through, bust mostly the good, and damn is it good.
Kevin Barnes has been “doing it again!” for quite a long time now. The past few Of Montreal releases were decent at minimum, but always seemed to lack that special something. This time, it’s as if Of Montreal really did do it –again. Innocence Reaches begins with a few tracks that harken back to “Hissing Fauna.” The band has brought on a blissed out psych pop that hasn’t been properly expressed in ages. Barnes has implanted an antsy-ness about his music, something nervous and tormented. Of Montreal is as memorable as ever with a nice return to some old inspirations.
The opening track, “Let’s Relate,” begins with a synth driven melody. There’s something dreamy about it and when it breaks, Barnes comes across with a particular intensity. The song becomes a plastic pop wonderland. Barnes sings out, “I think that you’re great, “ into the chorus, “let’s relate.” It’s a beautiful merger of something old and something new, a shameless shamefulness captured in earlier Of Montreal works mixed with some fresh inspiration. The song manages to mirror the bubblegum pop that’s been emerging as of late (PC Music). It’s Of Montreal on party drugs. The band’s been busy and the end result is nasty good.
The majority of Innocence Reaches thereafter plays like a 70’s psychedelic rock album. The band adds their fun, candy-colored indiepop vibe. On occasion, Of Montreal cuts back into the heavy pop styling that they utilized in the first track. “Gratuitous Abysses,” and “Ambassador Bridge,” are both solid representations of either side of Innocence Reaches. The former takes on the more psychedelic driven, rock atmosphere. “Gratuitous Abysses” utilizes an onslaught of psychedelic guitar jams. Barnes busts out his rock star vocals and the song progresses from there. It’s stellar. The latter song, “Ambassador Bridge,” is a moody funk pop, possibly a UK-electro inspired tune. The song begins chipper and drops into intensity, passing through several changes while maintaining hi-hats, claps, and a mesmerizing soundscape of electronic instruments. Of Montreal manages to put on a powerful display of versatility and performs an otherwise fantastic psychedelic pop album.
For the naysayers, I will admit that on occasion Innocence Reaches presents a boring song, but not unforgivably so. “My Fair Lady,” despite maybe a purposeful monotony, was just tiring to listen to. Not much changed, the song went on. But at the end of the day, these moments are rare, Innocence Reaches ultimately holds up.
So while a fan of Of Montreal may have considered their past recent releases as decent if not good, Innocence Reaches goes above and beyond, and could wow most of anyone. Much of it presents the same emotion and power as Of Montreal’s older releases, while providing some new psychedelic and pop inspiration. Overall, the album is fantastic.