of Montreal is releasing their brand new album 'Innocence Reaches' on the 12th of August via Create/Control. The 14th LP follows two full decades of mercurial creative mania: swallowing up ‘60s psych-pop, Prince-ly funk, and glammy prog in turn; morphing freely between full-band affair and cloistered confessional booth; comprising lyrics both painfully personal and absurdly fantastical; and recently drawing site-specific inspiration from culture capitals like San Francisco or New York City. The thread that runs through it all is Athens, GA’s Kevin Barnes, and Innocence Reaches finds him at his most light-hearted in years, working a Parisian stint, Top 40 sounds, and his newfound single status into the kaleidoscopic swirl. Even as he continues to sift the sonic and emotional detritus of his past, Barnes sums up his current mood in the opener’s title: “let’s relate.”
The most immediate surprise is the sound. Innocence Reaches is touched by contemporary electronica, indie pop, and EDM. For the first time in his career, Barnes tuned into now. “Forever I’ve been detached from current music,” he says. “I got into this bubble of only being in some other time period. I came up picking apart the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and symphonic pieces. But last year, I was hearing Jack Ü, Chairlift, Arca, and others, thinking about low end and sound collage. It was an extra layer to geek out on.”
Apropos, Innocence Reaches’ cover design was an attempt by a new first-time father - Kevin’s brother David- to express his “wonderment for the female anatomy.” And the aforementioned “let’s relate” was indeed inspired by trans issues, a subject dear to Barnes’ heart. “I have a history of gender-bending in performances, but that’s also always been a part of my identity as a human,” he says. “I’m thankful to have an outlet for that, to express that and not get chased out of town or beat up. I think we’re moving in the right direction now.” The song is a call to find common ground in simply being human: “I like that you like you/I think that you’re great/I want to relate,” he sings cheerily.
Innocence Reaches features darker moments to be sure - isolation, anger, indifference, and the feeling that, like a Truffaut film, madness lurks just outside the frame - but as Barnes explains, “Epiphany comes from breakdown. If you can stay open and vulnerable, the nebulous becomes transparent. That’s one of the magical aspects of writing from personal life.”
Sometimes you’ve gotta intentionally court a little chaos in order to make one of the best, weirdest, brightest, catchiest, and most inventive albums in your already incredible catalog.
Of Montreal Innocent Reaches In-Store August 12 via Create/Control