Athens, Georgia’s pop shapeshifters of Montreal have released a discography astonishing in both number of albums (UR FUN is number 16) and musical exploration, whose only sonic through-lines are an allegiance to ’60s psych-pop and an ear for giant, dancey hooks. For UR FUN, sole core member Kevin Barnes chose to forego the majority of his collaborators and go this one alone. It boggles the mind that this collection, one pop supernova after another, is almost entirely the work of one man. Granted, by now the mind behind Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and 2018’s White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood knows songcraft as well as he knows his own name.
Shelved too this time around are Barnes’ familiar costumes and drag. He’s re-emerging from his self-imposed recording isolation as, well, just a regular guy – a regular guy who seems to be able to pull ultra-catchy, contemporary dance-pop with dense, multidimensional lyrics out of thin air. “Get God’s Attention By Being An Atheist” is the best example yet of Barnes’ love for, and mastery of, bouncy melodic basslines, glam guitars, and layered vocal harmonies. A few Top 40 ’80s radio staples and ’90s MTV chart-busters have made their way into the track’s DNA, continuing of Montreal’s unpredictable, ridiculously enjoyable evolution in grand style.
This thing starts with a dude in a bargain bin amateur wrestling mask waking up an innocent child from their peaceful slumber, and that’s as normal as it gets. In fact, fair warning: the whole video for “Get God’s Attention By Being An Atheist” is gonna make you want to stop doing drugs. Or start doing drugs — either way. As Barnes throws caution to the wind, shouting, “We don’t give a f**k, we want it louder,” he gets his wish as the plucky young one rallies his gang to do battle with Goatmen, hulking Flowerfolk and a Devil Priestess. The kids appear to hold their own, armed only with whirling, technicolor puffs of dust as they make these Woods safe for the sane. It’s a hyperkinetic, fantastical ride, for sure, and if you find yourself a little tuckered out by the end, you’re not alone: the kid calls it a day, and for all we know, this whole thing never even really happened.
If you could pick any video to live inside of, which one would it be? Wrong, you’d pick this clip for “Polyaneurism,” spending perfect afternoons poolside with a grab bag of dogs, maybe hopping in a canoe when the urge hits. This is the story of Misha the Art Dog, her rise to insta-fame (and Insta-fame), and her brief love affair with the gallery scene. She quickly finds herself surrounded by phony, basic furballs, and lands in the inevitable, devastating loneliness waiting at the end of it all. Director Clayton Rychlik gets serious, pulling back the curtain on the empty promises and happily-ever-after minefields of polyandry. Because as wonderful as that kind of freedom sounds, you know what Misha would say by the end of the video? Woof, honey. That’s what.