Of Montreal – Freewave Lucifer fck (2022)

Posted by Green on July 28, 2022as

320 | FLAC

Originally emerging from the Elephant 6 collective in the 1990s, Kevin Barnes’ ever-unpredictable indie outlet Of Montreal had just released Ur Fun, an infectious dance-rock album inspired by ’80s 12″ dance mixes, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. With venues at least temporarily shuttered and touring off the table, they spent the next couple years recording at home without — in sharp contrast to the rock-club-ready Ur Fun — giving a thought to having to perform any of the songs live. With that in mind, this time period produced a knotty, mercurial, 20-track self-released album (2021’s I Feel Safe with You, Trash) and this, Freewave Lucifer fck, Of Montreal’s 18th studio album and 12th for the Polyvinyl label. Similarly impulsive and even more packed with subject matter and musical ideas than its sneaked-out predecessor, it organizes its patchwork segments into a more digestible seven tracks, even if they do play out like a continuous DJ mix somewhere around the midway point.

With Barnes referring to the songs’ lyrics as “a free-flowing collage of all that I was perceiving and absorbing,” opener “Marijuana’s a Working Woman” even adopts different voices for its various sections, as it navigates through trippy dance-rock (“Die once every three minutes: Something to look forward to throughout your day”), echoey art rock, galloping psych-pop (“Maybe we should fight”), Lennon-esque pop/rock, demonic orchestral rock (“Dance, tell a joke, worsen the mood”), and shuffling lounge pop (“It’s a good night to cry, I don’t have any tears left”) before eventually ending with the line “How does it feel to be a bust?” (They later do their best Bowie impersonation deep into “Hmmm.”) That being said, it all transpires in under six minutes, is kept afloat by appealing grooves and reappearing melodic ideas, and relates through a certain jaded exasperation very familiar to its time. The slower, foggier, harmony-rich “Ofrenda-Flanger-Ego-à Gogo” is a more coherent entry, if utterly psychedelic, although most of the rest of Freeway Lucifer follows the example of the first song, expressing overwhelmed thoughts through a shape-shifting and ultimately surprisingly (if not entirely) listenable and cathartic sequence of tracks.

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