“A proper giddy listen” is how the relevant PR described the latest album by Of Montreal to me – their sixteenth, believe it or not – and to be frank, it’s very hard to say anything else that those four words don’t already sum up. It’s the perfect account of what UR Fun is all about.
The record positively erupts with the opener ‘Peace To All Freaks‘, a real eighties vibe and with such a positivity that it’s impossible not to throw your arms in the air and dance frantically while grinning like a goon. It has that carefree prescience that Danny Wilson‘s songs often had back in the day (the band that is, not the ex-Barnsley manager) and is hard to resist. “If you’re dead inside, you don’t really age” sings Kevin Barnes, a great line in a song that, within moments, lets us know in no uncertain terms that this is going to be one of the early great pop albums of the 2020s. And it IS unashamedly ‘pop’ most of the time, albeit often vaccinated with a healthy dose of post punk. ‘Polyaneurism‘ for example begins a little like Magazine but ultimately is this big, thumping tune that once again instantly turns whichever room you’re in into a dancefloor.
The more aggressive ‘Get God’s Attention By Being An Atheist‘ might have been considered controversial not so long ago, but these days is more likely to be approached merely with curiosity, but regardless of that, it gets your fists pumping once again in no time. I feel like this is the album they always wanted to make and somehow everything seems to have fallen perfectly into place on this occasion. This is a moshpit you’d really want to be in – one that wouldn’t just be filled with great music, but also one that’s filled with love. Even ‘Gypsy That Remains‘, which begins like a romantic caress, evolves and hooks you into its captivating sway. And I can imagine Phil Oakey singing ‘You’ve Had Me Everywhere‘, being reminiscent of The Human League at the peak of their commercial worldwide success. “If anything happened to you…I don’t even want to think about that” is such a lovely line too. So simple, but so effective, and one we can all relate to.
The second half of UR Fun is marginally less in-your-face than the rest, with ‘Carmillas Of Love‘ seemingly melding Cockney Rebel with latter day Beatles, but it’s no less efficacious. Then ‘Don’t Let me Die In America‘ simply reels off various cities in which Barnes does not wish to meet his demise, set to the kind of guitar blasts you’d associate with Jet. It’s probably the weakest track, but the fact that it’s still extremely enjoyable should give you some idea just what a great album UR Fun is. That, in turn, is followed by the delightful ‘St. Sebastian‘, a heady mix of Kraftwerk style motifs, Roxy Music beats and Richard Hell-meets-Dylan type vocals.
After the bluesy ‘Deliberate Self-Harm Ha Ha‘, which put me in mind of Canned Heat, Alannah Myles‘s ‘Black Velvet‘ and Jefferson Airplane, Of Montreal sign off their best album yet with the frenzied brilliance of ‘20th Century Schizofriendic Revengoid Man‘, leaving you with a real “Whoa, what just happened?” feeling.
There’s no getting away from it – Of Montreal’s UR Fun is a proper giddy listen…
UR Fun is out now on Polyvinyl Records.