of Montreal Are Still the Horniest Freaks at the Party on 'Lady on the Cusp'

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished May 16, 2024


Over the span of 27 years, Kevin Barnes has released 20 albums and five EPs as of Montreal, nearly putting them in league with Guided by Voices (okay not really, but they're closer than most). But what sets of Montreal apart is Kevin Barnes' perpetual restlessness, making most of their albums fascinating listens whether they're breaking ground or burning to the ground. of Montreal are at their best when they're dangerous and unrestrained, and at their worst when they choose to play nice.

Unsurprisingly, the best aspects of Lady on the Cusp, the now-quartet's latest LP, are those moments when Barnes refuses to behave. Despite relocating from the vibrant music scene of Athens, GA, to the laid-back atmosphere of Vermont with their partner, Barnes hasn't lost their edge and refuses to adhere to lyrical norms. On Lady on the Cusp, Barnes's commentary ranges from just slightly clever ("Rock 'n' roll is dead / That's why it's cool") on churning opener "Music Hurts the Head" to downright callous ("Distortion sucks / Your mother should know") on the MC Hammer-inspired "2 Depressed 2 Fuck." But Barnes gets straight-up bizarre with gems like "Stepping on scorpions to lose my erection," on the indie throwback "Rude Girl on Rotation," and "With my prayer beads and my anal beads / Hope I don't mix them up" on the space-funk of "Yung Hearts Bleed Free."

But what lifts these moments above that of the band's two previous albums, 2022's Freewave Lucifer F<ck F^ck F>ck and 2021's I Feel Safe with You, Trash is a sense of clarity and calm that's been missing from the group's sound for some time. Following a level of success in the mid-2000s, Barnes' music faced challenges in the early 2010s due to a revolving door of musicians, resulting in the departure of anyone who had connections to their Elephant Six origins.

Instead of leaning on longtime members Jojo Glidewell and Clayton Rychlik, who've each been with the group for over a decade, Barnes opted to record much of Lady of the Cusp on their own. Although barely above-two-minute songs like the turbulent "I Can Read Smoke" and the electronic polyrhythmic "Poetry Surf" hit above their respective weights, sounding adventurous and compact at the same time, Barnes opts for their old tricks on the falsetto dance number "Soporific Cell," the experimental dance pop of "PI$$ PI$$" and the stomping closer "Genius in the Wind."

Longtime fans should recognize Lady on the Cusp as a strong late-career addition to of Montreal's vast discography, mainly due to Barnes's larger-than-life persona. But you can only be the horniest freak at the party for so long before it starts to get old.  


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