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of Montreal’s modern aesthetic appeal

by Steven Nadeau February 17, 2015
of Montreal’s modern aesthetic appeal

The band’s image and performances are enhanced with their wild aesthetic creativity

If he’s not covered in shaving cream emerging from a coffin or rockin’ a cute frilly skirt and fishnets, then chances are that of Montreal’s frontman, Kevin Barnes, might just be performing in nothing but a ribbon seductively wrapped around his body (leaving all the good parts exposed).

Originating from the depths of Athens, Georgia, this paragon of an artistic orgy goes beyond the goal of auditory magnificence to bring its listeners complete corporeal and transcendental liberation through the multiple forms of art they create.

Yet somehow, the band’s mastermind lives up to Lord Gunge’s (from hip-hop funk duo Grand Buffet) label of being “the kinkiest motherfucker I have ever seen in my

Of Montreal play at the Mohawk. Photo by Landry Edwards.

life” as said in an interview for the documentary of the band called The Past is a Grotesque Animal. This emphasis on their visual appearance is in no way a distraction from lazy song writing, nor are they trying to sell a lifestyle as many contemporary musicians attempt, but rather, their optical artistry is simply one piece of the overall brilliance they ooze.

It’s moderately impossible to describe the aesthetic madness within of Montreal’s wacky theatrics, save for maybe a kaleidoscopic mind-fuck that incorporates gender-bending, morphsuits and horse riding in nothing but gold booty shorts (yes, they actually had a live horse on stage back in 2008 at the Roseland Ballroom, NYC). Even the mere words that describe it seem like a watered down version of what actually goes on inside the venue walls at one of their concerts. Being not nearly as insignificant or unheard of as one might have presupposed, of Montreal has toured with artists such as Deerhoof and MGMT, borrowed a band member from Elf Power, collaborated with Foxygen, Solange Knowles, Janelle Monae, had a song featured in an episode of Weeds and even had Susan Sarandon perform at a few of their shows who explained, in the documentary: “the first time I met the band I was actually kind of [dressed up as] a teacher with a ruler and I sat on Kevin and spanked a man in a naked pig costume.”

The only thing weirder than their look might just be the music itself, ranging from Sesame Street-like echoes to glam-funk bursts of psychotic energy. Song titles that go from “Happy Yellow Bumblebee,”  to “Big Tittied Sluts,” each album exploring a different universe of style without sacrificing their ‘authenticity,’ whatever that may be. What’s even more impressive is how they’ve manage to pull this all off without insane amounts of money and professional designers that modern pop artists have access to: it’s Barnes’ brother David who directs the skits and costume designs they feature at their concerts. Back in 2013 during an interview with WKDU Philadelphia 91.7FM, Kevin described that “of Montreal has sort of become its own collective within itself with all of these people contributing ideas, and working together, [it’s] my brother and my wife that do a lot of the album artwork and animation that we have live. Everyone is performing different roles within the group.” This renders of Montreal one of the few unique ensembles that radiate complete sensory titillation through extremely personal and genuine lyricism: they simply take ‘art’ to a whole different level.

The band is releasing their 13th studio Album Aureate Gloom on March 3.

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