The thing about of Montreal is that they aren’t cool.
of Montreal’s music videos don’t show off the artsy cinematographic mirage that every other band in their “genre” is doing. They have been around since 1996, have released 22 full-length albums, and have toured around the world, and yet their recent West Palm Beach show was held on a stage so small, that the band barely all fit on it at one time.
They’ve been on the cusp of the mainstream for years — lurking behind T-Mobile commercials, stock exchange advertisements, and that really catchy Outback Steakhouse jingle. In fact, lead singer and founding member Kevin Barnes recently produced Solange Knowles’ latest album. But they never lost their novelty, they never slowed down, and their creativity was never hindered by big industry.
Putting them into a genre box would be a disservice (as it usually is for most bands) but I’m going to do it anyway: indie rock inspired by psychedelic 60s pop, this band has created something that can be best described as mystical, unexpected, multi-faceted and, honestly, just odd.
Every track is “catchy” in its own right — but not at the expense of losing depth and complexity. It doesn’t follow the formula of a general “good song.” They are an experience, but not experimental. They are able to take vintage conventions and turn them into brand new sounds. Their quirkiness doesn’t feel like a gimmick (even though, by definition, it is).
When we first heard of Montreal’s “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” an 11 min and 52 second wormhole of a track, we knew that this was what music was supposed to do. If you’re able to sit still and listen to a song without doing anything else, you know that you’ve found something out of this world. While listening, you feel pulled through the vortex of time and space. It’s a whirlwind of emotional genius that doesn’t make you feel happy or sad, but somewhere in between.
It’s not made for this world and you wouldn’t want it to be.
Back in 2008 while releasing their 13th album “Skeletal Lamping,” Barnes decided that the conventional CD and vinyl were obsolete. Instead, the band released the album in 10 different formats ranging from T-shirt’s, wall decals, and tote bags, to paper lanterns. Rather than create another object with a single purpose, the band wanted to create something that was not only beautiful but functional.
And that’s the thing about C&I. We don’t just create art, we create ideas that have purpose. Because ideas with no purpose end up sitting on the shelf, forgotten.
Ultimately, of Montreal’s music has always posed the question “if you’re going to be conventional, then why make anything at all?”