“[…] you can’t really martyr yourself when no one gives a fuck” – Def Pacts, of Montreal.
Christmas. Halloween. Mexican Independence Day. Yearly occurrences people celebrate or abhor if they are party poopers. A yearly album by of Montreal also gets the same reception: celebrated by some, loathed by others and ignored by the ones who never bothered to pay attention to their art rock.
It is a band that polarises because of the nature of their music. Throw a dart and you might hit something as full of oblique tracks like 2011’s thecontrollersphere. Smoke a joint, throw a dart again and it will bounce back, dropping a bottle of Zima and landing in the brilliant 70s rock tribute Lousy with Sylvianbriar. of Montreal are a perilous creek, breathtaking and terrifying. Innocence Reaches might not be the weirdest moment the band has created in their large catalogue but certainly is a satisfying one.
Lyrics wise, Innocence Reaches is a treat. Although never as grim as the honest catharsis of Xiu Xiu, of Montreal never shies away from the darker side of human nature. ‘It’s different for girls’ drops a few truth bombs that are common knowledge to some, tidbits of newfound enlightenment for others. Gender politics and upbringing shine in this track, delivering a double-tap slice of wisdom: “For every one psycho chick, there’s ten thousand hateful pricks.“
Innocence Reaches delivers a varies sonic palette. The impossibly sweet ‘gratuitous abysses’ manages to weasel multisyllabic words into catchy Sweet-like riffs and back-and-forth vocals. ‘Thrashed Exes’ jumps into that pop-and-electronic cocktail that of Montreal prepare so well. This house speciality spitefully puts the end to a romance that went south real fast. ‘Chap pilot’ is a majestic album closer, with its droning nature intertwining with the spirit of Moroder, fading into the cold, bitter night.
But what of Montreal do best is delivering haymakers. ‘def pacts’ cracks a few jaws with its impressive structure that tumbles down and rebuilds itself in its psychedelic moments. A pent-up anger delivery could fool you into thinking the song is just another spiteful break-up/chastising combo. And then it evaporates into a psychedelic landscape. Gravity no longer applies, time stops being meaningful and off we go, into a strange place where forgiveness and grudges aren’t mutually exclusive. Regret becomes circular in nature and heals while critically damaging the soul. As much as you could chastise of Montreal for their constant output, there’s always the one track that reminds you why they are a great band.
The creative world is brutal: a neverending march where only those who keep themselves relevant and active might or not survive. Innocence Reaches prove that of Montreal can still deliver their artful shots with the acumen of a space hippie that knows how to pick the best of each era, mix it together and create a whole new beast.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López.