After 16 albums, it would seem that the indie-pop stream train of Montreal is not slowing down. Originally formed in Georgia in 1996, they have swayed from bouncing semi-folk tunes like “Lysergic Bliss” to bass-filled tracks like “Gronlandic Edit”. The ever-changing line-up has enabled the band to lean into creativity and tap into the well of talent. Unlike their other albums, UR FUN is solely created by founder and the longest standing member of the band, Kevin Barnes. He recorded this album on his own and has curated as a selection of radio-worthy pop songs, shying away from a full-album experience.
“Polyaneurisim” is somehow both punky and authentic. Other bands have tried to replicate the iconic sound but have ended up creating something completely inauthentic, the antithesis of punk. But Barnes has pulled it off. A simple guitar and bass intro brings us to Barnes’ vocals that subtly melt from punk rock to bubble 80’s pop. It may seem a little unconventional, and it is, and all for a good reason. This unconventionalness links in with the subject matter. He sings of the ups and downs of unconventional relationships while also making sure that the whole experience is light and airy.
Twinkling its way into the auditory realm, “Gypsy That Remains” is dreamy. The lyrics are romantic and somewhat hazy, like a blanket of warm cosy stars covering your body. Unlike some of the other tracks (here’s looking at you “Don’t Let Me Die In America”), he doesn’t launch us into the chorus. He gently lulls us in with the addition of vocals from Locate S,1 and a hint of a slightly aggressive drum machine. The voice of Locate S,1 arches over Barnes’ voice, creating a duet that make the singers both independent and codependent in one musical move.
The final section of the album sets a slower pace. With melancholic melodies, Barnes’ lyrics turn towards society and the human psyche. “Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha” is about chasing temptation and how it is always doomed to fail. Its driving bassline and irksome synth and vocal harmonies bend your ear, taking you on a dark and somewhat self-righteous journey that is a welcome change of pace.
UR FUN is pop-filled and joyous but doesn’t shy away from dealing with serious issues. This album shows why Barnes is one of the best lyricists out there. He weaves his observations with music, creating an album that is somehow retro and completely new.