Published Mar 08, 2018Being an Of Montreal fan can be exhausting. Kevin Barnes and his cast of collaborators release albums at a prolific pace, each of them featuring colourful cover illustrations and track lists full of insufferably verbose titles. This can make it difficult to distinguish one album from the next, but thankfully, the music on White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood proves to be much more memorable than its branding.
The album's intricate electro-funk arrangements find Barnes operating within his wheelhouse, with the twist here being that there are only six tracks, all of them with lengthy runtimes and structures that resemble suites rather than traditional pop songs. While the record is largely a solo affair, sax player Zac Colwell leaves an important stamp on several cuts: "Writing the Circles/Orgone Tropics" ends with an outdo of sultry soloing; "Sophie Calle Private Game/Every Person Is a Pussy, Ever Pussy Is a Star!" features cinematic interplay between synths and horns; and closer "If You Talk to Symbol/Hostility Voyeur" ends the album with a coda of ambient avant-jazz.
For all of its ambitious songwriting, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood is a fairly low-stakes album. This is Of Montreal's 15th LP (to say nothing of their many EPs and compilations), and it's neither their most sonically confrontational work, nor their most viscerally emotional. It's pleasant and poppy, but if you don't get around to listening, no sweat — knowing Barnes, there will be another album in a year or two. (Polyvinyl)