10 Best Of Montreal Songs
Of Montreal have had a strange journey as a band. On their debut album, 1997’s 'Cherry Peel,' they started their musical career sounding like a group of 'Sgt. Pepper'-inspired folk hippies. But with each album, they’ve gotten trippier, funkier and more psychedelic. After 15 years, 11 full-lengths, several EPs and countless lineup changes, the band has now reached what seems like the apex of their weirdness. Led by frontman Kevin Barnes, the Atlanta group skews closer to the glam showmanship of David Bowie or Prince than they do to the '60s-style rock of the Beatles, frequently incorporating bizarre costumes, elaborate makeup and bizarre stage antics into their live act. As Barnes and the gang prep their 12th studio effort, 'lousy with sylvianbriar,' due out Oct. 8, Diffuser.fm thought it time to pick through this eccentric crew's immense and diverse discography and create this list of the 10 Best Of Montreal Songs.
Before Kevin Barnes’ lyrics started sounding like the products of week-long acid trips, he penned some incredibly relatable love songs. This one, No. 10 on our list of the 10 Best Of Montreal Songs, is a simple but sweet tune about being so overwhelmed by the notion of kissing someone for the first time that you totally get lost in the moment and want a re-do.
Although the songs on Of Montreal’s debut album, 'Cherry Peel,' are less textured -- musically and lyrically -- than those on the band’s later releases, ‘Don’t Ask Me to Explain’ is a great example of how the group could probably take a rubberband and a shoebox and make a fun song out of it.
Of Montreal have released almost a dozen full-length albums, they’ve also put out a ton of EPs, bonus discs and cover songs. ‘Psychotic Feeling,’ which can be found on the 'Deflated Chime, Foals Slightly Flower Sibylline Responses' EP, is possibly the band’s best song to have never made its way to a proper album.
While Kevin Barnes has penned some lyrics that have been a little out there, ‘Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider’ features a chorus that makes you stop and say, “Wait, did I just hear that correctly?” Barnes sings: “Eva, I'm sorry, but you will never have me. To me, you're just some faggy girl. And I need a lover with soul power.” There’s something wonderfully juvenile about hearing a grown man call a girl he has no romantic interest in “faggy.”
This song would’ve likely earned a higher spot on our list of the 10 Best Of Montreal Songs had the band not lent it to Outback Steakhouse for use in a commercial. The Australian-themed restaurant chain changed the lyrics from “Let’s pretend we don’t exist, let’s pretend we’re in Antarctica” to “Let’s go Outback tonight, life will still be there tomorrow.” Ever since that commercial began running, it’s been hard to take the song seriously. But somewhere under the commercialism is a seriously catchy tune, even if it was turned into a jingle.
‘Satanic Panic in the Attic’ (2004) was a monumental album for Of Montreal. It was their first on Polyvinyl Records, and it marked a distinct change in the band’s sound. One musical addition Kevin Barnes seemed particularly fond of on this release was the use of multi-part harmonies, which is on full display on ‘My British Tour Diary,’ a song about a trip to England.
Kevin Barnes and his wife and former bandmate, Nina, celebrated the birth of their first daughter in 2004 and named her Alabee. So this song, No. 4 on our list of the Best Of Montreal Songs, is most likely about her. But Barnes sure has an esoteric way of writing paternal lyrics. “The chrysalis is breaking and the super ego's waking," he sings. "I've been a gloomy Petrarch with a quill as weepy as Dido.” Hopefully, his daughter will one day understand what that means -- and then explain it to the rest of us.
Of Montreal fans have debated what “o.m.m.2” refers to. Some believe it stands for “Of Montreal Mach 2,” a reference to the band’s former self -- the version that existed before Barnes launched into his current glam-rock persona -- but this has never been confirmed. Whatever it’s about, it's a sad goodbye sung in an incredibly cheerful way.
Many of Of Montreal’s songs are written as short narratives based on imagined characters. ‘Jennifer Louise’ is about as simple of a narrative as it gets. The song focuses on an estranged cousin, and while it’s not the most complex song on our list, it earns its spot for epitomizing Kevin Barnes’ lyrical prowess and talent for offbeat storytelling. The song was once the band’s go-to closer at live shows -- and for good reason.
‘Lysergic Bliss’ earns the No. 1 spot on our list of the 10 Best Of Montreal Songs based purely on the fact that it's damn near impossible to hear it without instantly having your day brightened. It is a song about overwhelming happiness, and it's musical Kryptonite for life’s bad vibes.