Kevin Barnes knows how to take the listener on an odyssey, as he has so often done fronting of Montreal. His latest, Aureate Gloom, features more personal lyrics from a tumultuous period in his life, but the widely varying psychedelic effects don’t grab quite as effectively.
The funky and upbeat opener “Bassem Sabry” would seem to indicate a positive of Montreal record, but Aureate Gloom actually goes all over the place in sound while Barnes digs dark in word. He seems to search for new terms for hell in song titles like “Empyrean Abattoir”, “Chthonian Dirge For Uruk the Other”, and “Like Ashoka’s Inferno of Memory”. While the relatively ‘basic’ (for Barnes) pieces such as the up in the air “Abattoir” and even alt-country-ish “Estocadas” prove interesting, there’s maybe a bit too much going on in the over-the-top “Monolithic Express” or “Ashoka’s”.
Of Montreal’s last release, Lousy With Sylvanbriar (QRO review), saw Barnes throttle back a bit on his spectacle for a more engaging record, but Aureate Gloom largely sees him return to giant psychedelics he has become known for, if with more personal lyrics.