Published by JB on October 16, 2014
The most prolific man in indie pop shows that it’s not all studio gimmicks
At the age of 40 Kevin Barnes seemed to hit a crossroads in the past 12 months. An endless long stream of strange, idiosyncratic, and sometimes wonderful pop albums finally lost their way. As it became more difficult to differentiate one album from another in the of Montreal catalog, Barnes delivered the closest thing possible to a live band studio album with Lousy with Sylvianbriar; an uncharacteristically humble album from the one-man wrecking crew that Barnes had become. It was quite frankly, one of the most surprisingly fresh albums of 2013.
A career that has seen flourishes of near-brilliance was mixed in with over-indulgent self-induced output that often borderlined on narcissistic. Keeping in mind that we like our rock stars to over-indulge and be narcissistic. With Barnes, though we sometimes felt there was just a little too much going on. At times, it just seemed like once in awhile less would be more. Not every album can be Sgt. Pepper – sometimes you just need to scale it back and find your White Album.
The eccentric, onstage side of Barnes is at play again on the current tour, somewhat. Borrowing heavily from the of Montreal catalog he’s touring lightly on Lousy with Sylvianbriar and interjecting it with new cuts from the upcoming album, Aureate Gloom. With Barnes you just need to pray for those moments of brilliance to arrive onstage more frequently. With a catalog stretching back 15 or so years, it creates a no-lose situation for Barnes if makes the right picks. ‘Disconnect the Dots’ is a prime example of his greatness. Donning a blonde wig and nightgown he delivers a more scaled-down show musically than what we’ve seen before. Part of that limitation is caused by the venue but hopefully it’s a more humble approach from Barnes away the zany attitude he’s lived on in the past. He’s always been a lo-fi version of the Flaming Lips onstage. I like this version much better. There’s already enough Wayne Coyne to go around for all of us.