Kevin Barnes’ indie-pop veterans of Montreal return with ‘UR FUN’, their first album since 2018’s ‘White is the Relic/Irrealis Mood’. Billed as a ‘staying-in-love record’, it promises to be full of potent pop hooks and foot-shuffling melodies.
The album opens with ‘Peace to All Freaks’, a song with an important message and a burst of handclaps and synths that bare a passing resemblance to ’99 Red Balloons’. Kevin sings ‘Hush, hush, I don’t think I can do it for myself but I can do it for us’ before offering a rally against racism: ‘Somebody must have taught them at a crucial age that if you’re dead inside, you don’t really age’. Following this is ‘Polyaneurism’ with lyrics about ‘insta-fame’ and a sound that evolves from a Polyphonic Spree or Flaming Lips-infused intro and then to a bop more in line with The 1975. ‘Get God’s Attention By Being an Atheist’ has a driving bass line that resembles a computer game sountrack before drawling vocals about Eden and sex toys are thrown into the mix: ‘We want it louder, we don’t give a fuck’.
‘Gypsy That Remains’ has a grandiose opening with lyrics to match: ‘Going mental brings us closer to God and you are a prince for finding me beautiful’. Things then take a seductive turn: ‘I want you in my arms forever, that’s just how I feel’. ‘You’ve Had Me Everywhere’ has a loving message and a sound that recalls Stars: ‘Listen to your heartbeat realising it’s my heartbeat too, because if something were to happen to you I would lose my mind and I would never get it back’. Things get psychedelic on ‘Carmillas of Love’, which is equal parts Sgt. Pepper’s and MGMT before veering into punk on ‘Don’t Let Me Die in America’ (‘I don’t want to die in Jacksonville, I don’t want to die in Omaha’; ‘I don’t even want to haunt this place’).
‘Deliberate Self-Harm Ha Ha’ offers another change in direction as the vocals begin to resemble Thom Yorke and the words talk about excuses, falling-outs and how ‘I f I can make you impotent, I know that I will never be free’. The closing ’20th Century Schizofriendic Revengard-man’ heads back to a punk-rock sound with messages that will strike a chord with every listener: ‘I can’t go to work today because I forgot to, how to human’; ‘Why does everything seem fake? Why does it all seem so unreal?’
With references to popular culture amidst the tales of modern love and society, this is a refreshing and vibrant record you’ll be rewarded with on every listen.