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‘Aureate Gloom’ is Of Montreal’s thirteenth full-length album and the songwriting and playing on this record are a testament to how together a band can sound when they’ve developed a long term friendship and strong musical intuition for each other.  The result is the perfect balance of caffeinated music with edgy beats and unflinching, deeply personal lyrics.

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Aureate Gloom by Of Montreal
2 reviews. Write a review for us »
6/10 Robin Staff review, 18 March 2015

This band are ridiculous and obnoxious and naked. That’s what I go into pretty much every of Montreal record thinking, and Kevin Barnes rarely proves me wrong, a psych pop naturist happily consuming hotspots of every cultural movement he can get his hands on (while, I have to assume, naked). Funk melts into orchestral strings into disco and then back around to twee pop and occasionally there’s a bit of folk to fall back on; as for ‘Aureate Gloom’, it sounds like someone’s deep fried David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ and served it up with early punk and a bunch of other genres that are wearing costumes and hurling eggs at your door. Get used to it, you square.

Barnes’ collective can often be unlistenable, considering the hundreds of palates they’re drawing from simultaneously -- wherever they can mine a direct melody into one of their pantomimic songs, though, they can sound sublime. It rarely happens here: “Last Rites At The Jane Hotel” knows it’s a romp and runs with it, using clunky, funky chords before allowing a cinematic bridge of strings and high-pitch hums halt the freakout. Songs like “Empryean Abattoir” are more promising: they pile on more of the band’s fetishisation of the British invasion at first, but soon reveal themselves to be subtler and quieter, at least in parts: it sounds like Vampire Weekend toning it down on ‘Modern Vampires’, muted chords and discouraged harmonies offering reality in a hyper-real world.

For what it’s worth -- and fuck this headache of a phrase coming up -- this is one of of Montreal’s most direct works. Despite the boisterous bridges and the crude guitar licks, like the one on “Monolithic Egress”, daring the Flaming Lips to be more unlikeable, there are moments of sonic hibernation, where riffs twinkle and singers coo and everyone just chills the fuck out. Thanks for not testing my patience too much, Kevin. You silly, probably naked sweetheart.

10/10 Jack Customer review, 28th December 2015

One album that has been painfully neglected within the plethora of noises and sounds that have been shoved in our direction the year is the unrelenting and unassuming Aureate Gloom. The next chapter in the unending series that is the of Montreal discography is a curious and brilliant record. Aureate Gloom does not continue the charmingly melodious folk driven pop that was introduced in 2013's Lousy with Sylvianbriar, nor does it revisit the hooky and critically praised pop affair that was Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? Singer/song-writer Kevin Barnes has thrown himself into uncharted waters musically without a life-jacket.

Barnes has given us an album that is as frantic musically as it is lyrically. Like the aforementioned Hissing Fauna..., Aureate Gloom was created at a point of personal turmoil for our leading man. Every track focusses on the collapse of the marriage and friendship (both past and present) of Barnes' wife. However instead of wailing out ballads over minor piano chords, Kevin Barnes has a full band assembled to showcase his pain and manic depression the of Montreal way. Blistering punk attacks, psychedelic freak-outs over shifting time signatures, stinging angular 'riffage' and of course, glorious bubblegum pop aplenty are all packed into this 45 minute gem.

In some ways Aureate Gloom's sonic sophistication and its inability to stand still may have been a reason for its lukewarm reception from critics and casual fans. While the closest album I can compare this to in the of Montreal songbook is 2008's Skeletal Lamping, that album carries a certain celebration of joy and excess. The aptly titled Aureate Gloom possesses a far uglier tone in the songs, a severe bitterness in Barnes' voice and a general feeling of unrest. A specific example of this is the album's most engaging yet difficult track "Monolithic Egress" containing the reoccurring lyrical motif (sang both sweetly and scarily) 'Outside I’m desert, inside I’m howling' which sums the album up in a lot of ways.

Throughout the track's many different musical moments Barnes pleas to his lost love a rather childish musing 'No you never did me wrong, we’ve just been together too long, babe'. Whilst in other more abrasive sections a sea of disturbing imagery and melodramatic prose exists - 'I can only bury the statues, cause the dead have already been eaten' - amongst clusters of over-driven guitar and funky bass lines. The heart of the song halts the cacophony as Barnes sings cleanly:

'Should we endeavour to hate each other just to feel like we’re moving pieces?

I know that I will always need to possess you in the abstract'

Kevin poetically reveals his humanity here, albeit very tragically as he confides to us that he will never truly be able to sever his bond with his former lover. In fact, through all the clutter, catchy hooks and expert musicianship of Aureate Gloom Barnes is howling at us, and I hope more of us will take notice.


of Montreal - Empyrean Abattoir [OFFICIAL AUDIO VIDEO] - YouTube



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