Clash (magazine) - "[I]t's refreshing to see that Kevin Barnes and Co. are continuing to reinvent themselves with some of their most anthemic, accessible, and socially pertinent singles to date."
Personnel: Kevin Barnes (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, drum programming); Bennett Lewis (guitar); Robert Parins (acoustic guitar); Keiko Ishibashi (violin); Zac Colwell (woodwinds, brass); JoJo Glidewell (piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Clayton Rychlik (piano, drums, percussion); Philip Mayer (percussion).
Recording information: Solaris, Paris; Sunlandic Studios, Athens, GA.
Following studio albums inspired in part by folk-rock (Lousy with Sylvianbriar) and New York punk (Aureate Gloom), Kevin Barnes and company head more toward an updated glam-pop for studio LP 14, Innocence Reaches. The anger that marked Aureate Gloom has given way to reflection and a certain amount of lightness, without being lite. Recorded partially during a two-week stay in Paris to get away from it all after his divorce, the album is distinguished by contemporary sounds not expected from Barnes, especially on the electronic works "A Sport and a Pastime" and "Trashed Exes." The musical auteur did admit to connecting with some newer releases -- for a change -- while working on the record, naming names such as Chairlift and Jack Ü. Meanwhile, the opening two tracks may tempt Hissing Fauna-era Of Montreal fans, as well as some new wave revivalists. Barnes introduces the timely theme of gender identity with the album's opening words: "How do you identify?" That's from "Let's Relate," a post-punkish dance tune with surging electronics. It leads into the funky club anthem "It's Different for Girls," a song that playfully delves further into social constructs and stereotypes ("Though some demons are women, for every one psycho chick, there's 10,000 hateful pricks"). Represented later are full-on glam with "Gratuitous Abysses," and a fusion of dark pop and disco, "Ambassador Bridge." While Barnes worked partly in isolation, he's also joined on Innocence Reaches by his full band from the previous three Of Montreal albums (including live LP Snare Lustrous Doomings), as well as a handful of guest musicians. Representing the more challenging efforts of the band's prior several releases is the aptly titled "Chaos Arpeggiating." Its fluctuating tempos, somewhat meandering chord changes, and drama are still, in keeping with the rest of the album, melodic and hooky. Though Innocence Reaches is more than a bit disjointed, offering a mix of styles previously explored and newly absorbed, it's an uptempo pleaser with songs that promise to be handpicked fan favorites -- albeit with little consensus. ~ Marcy Donelson