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Album Review: “Aureate Gloom” by Of Montreal

Album Review: “Aureate Gloom” by Of Montreal


Athens, Georgia’s of Montreal have spent the better part of the last 28 years or so bending and blending genres to make intelligent, challenging rock music of almost every stripe. From their earlier psych-pop days when their Elephant 6 association was quite apparent in their music, to mastermind Kevin Barnes “transformation” into funky transsexual alter ego Georgie Fruit with the release of the masterful Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, the band has long taken pride in subverting expectations. With Aureate Gloom, Barnes sought to deal with the disillusion of his 11-year marriage (and even longer partnership) through the scope of influence of ’70s NYC bands like Talking Heads and Television.

While Aureate Gloom is filled with some of Barnes’ best hyper-literate tell offs (it’s as though he has rock n’ roll’s largest thesaurus on hand at all times), it’s hard to keep Barnes/Georgie Fruit’s mind out of the cosmos and his shoes off the dance floor. His is a funky sadness, a heartbreak he seems determined to dance out. Barnes reflected this when he spoke with Stereogum about the record’s title, saying, “It’s kind of a juxtaposition of the two extremes: An aureate gloom would be a sort of aesthetically interesting or beautiful ugliness, if that is possible–a sort of beautiful misery or something.”

The record’s high point comes when the party is over, the drugs have stopped working and Barnes is forced to finally confront the fact his life’s most important relationship thus far has come to an end. The three-song suite of “Estocadas,” “Chthonian Dirge For Uruk The Other” and album closer “Like Ashoka’s Inferno Of Memory” are as good as they are dark and angry. “Estocadas” tells the tale of a trip to the bullfights gone awry and features nature “writhing in her own filth again” and bleeds into the sudden explosion of Kraut-rock goodness that is “Chthonian Dirge…” a song that is sure to become a showstopper live. It’s here and on “Like Ashoka’s Inferno…” that the Television influence comes to the fore musically, and the anger truly takes over Barnes as he tells his former lover, “if there was something I loved in you, it’s dead.”

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Aureate Gloom stands out from being just another good Of Montreal record on the strength of its last third, and on Kevin Barnes’ seemingly endless supply of inspiration and hooky songs. Poor ole Georgie Fruit should embrace his dark side more often. »

Donovan Farley