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Of Montreal – Freewave Lucifer fck: Lucifer’s bitter victory

Twenty-first album by Of Montreal, Freewave Lucifer fck changes nothing to the psychedelic unreason of the group, but has despairing accents which make it a major piece of the work of Kevin Barnes.

It is undoubtedly difficult to explain what is Of Montreal to someone who would never have listened to a note of this music, but it is undoubtedly even more difficult to bring back to the group and to the Art of Kevin Barnes anyone who has thrown an ear to it, before fleeing, half bored, half terrified. Perhaps, moreover, you should have seen the circus that the group puts on on stage, with the delirious costumes, the theatrical staging of deviant ceremonies, and above all to have heard the way in which these musical pieces are transcended in contact with the public. Baroque, to truly UNDERSTAND and LOVE Of Montreal

Of Montreal coverFreewave Lucifer fckwith its absurd title, its cover with proliferating information, its position #21 in the discography of Of Montreal, may discourage any attempt at discovery, and may even exhaust the goodwill of longtime fans who still cling to the band: as it is the game, here are thirty minutes of complex and crazy chaos, of a music that is unlike any other but which bears its references with pride. With the addition of song lyrics that are often incomprehensible but always fascinating by the use of complicated words assembled in a dissonant way in a kind of autistic dyslexia that is as fun as it is frightening. But words which hide less and less the cries of anguish or revolt of Kevin Barnes.

The album’s intro track, Marijuana’s A Working Womantakes on a Bowian look (Ziggy–Aladdin period) which is something new to Barnes, even if we have always known his passion for glam rock. It’s that one of the themes here (as often? as always?) is “sexual fluidity”, and everyone will necessarily stop on a sentence like: ” When people ask me my gender I just tell them brunette (When people ask me my sex, I just tell them brunette): this reference to one of the greatest heroes of sexual mutation in contemporary society is naturally necessary. Otherwise (as often? as always? with Of Montreal), the song packs more dazzling melodic ideas into 5.5 minutes than the average album you’ll hear this month…but they’re chopped up into tiny shards and drowned in a psychedelic sauce with powerful effects.

Phoebe fakes orgasms as a career / Phoebe fakes orgasms nobody hears (Phoebe’s career is to fake orgasms / Phoebe fakes orgasms no one hears): Ofrenda-Flanger-Ego-Gogo (these titles!), much calmer, has a taste of deep sadness which will predominate in the rest of the album. Is the celebration of the senses, colorful and grandiose, over? : “ My lovers prayer is dripping in psychosis / Humming “If I only had a brain” (My lover’s prayer is dripping with psychosis / I hum “If only I had a brain”). When he stops clowning around, made up and dressed up, Kevin Barnes knows so well how to break our hearts.

We have the right to interpret Blab Sabbath Lathe of Maidenwith his renewed taste for provocation and striking images (“ I’m a mutt, I drink human blood / My mistake, did I mention I’m a stud? – I’m a dog, I drink human blood / Pardon the oversight, but did I mention I was a real stallion?) like a post-pandemic acid throwback, so much the unease seems deeper than usual at Of Montreal. Whether After Thee Déclassè speaks to us a little less – but who knows what will happen after many listenings, so difficult is this music to access? -, hovering and reflective Modern Art Belwilders first respects the rules of a psychedelic ballad before exploding halfway and going in search of beauty – in Love or in Art -, a Beauty which ultimately remains the sole objective of Kevin Barnes : “ I don’t need God, if I have you / What would I do with it? / Falling in love with you all over again / In the depths of your ignorance (I don’t need God, if I got you / What would I do with it? / Fall in love with you again / Deep in your ignorance)

Nightsift is a marvel, a kind of late crowning of an album that ultimately turns out to be too short: anguish of mortality, loss of bearings as madness becomes a mode of survival, vertigo of… love (“ There’s no human pain in my voice, it’s something else’s / What if she’s just a conversation I am having with myself? – There’s no human pain in my voice, it’s something else / What if it was just a conversation I’m having with myself?).

And the conclusion of this album is terrible: “When everything is fuckеd / You knowing that you’re not alone only makes it even sadder (“When it’s all over / Knowing you’re not alone only makes it sadder). The piece is called Hmmmand starts on rare acoustic arpeggios before an electronic beat and melancholy keyboards infuse an infinite sadness.

Lucifer, who does not exist but remains the great enemy of Kevin Barnes, while being his greatest ally won. What are we left with today? Of Montrealsure !

Eric Debarnot

Of Montreal – Freewave Lucifer fck
Label: Polyvinyl Records
Release date: July 29, 2022

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