of Montreal - Daughter Of Cloud

For such a madcap, experimental pop act, this is a reasonably cogent collection of songs.

Label: Polyvinyl

Rating: 7

The original face of the Elephant 6 Recording Company, Neutral Milk Hotel, are about as far away from fellow collective members of Montreal as it’s possible to get. If the music of Jeff Mangum was a Mark Rothko - dark, beguiling - Kevin Barnes’ is a Jackson Pollock, exploding with colour and energy. Across the carefully composed rarities collection the loose-limbed group eagerly leap between psychedelic twee pop and gyrating Prince funk.

Unlike most rarities collections, slapped together either as a fan-fleecer or as an uneven archive that would only be of interest to those same hardcore faithful, ‘Daughter of Cloud’ is arranged like an actual record - Barnes intentionally went against the convention of ordering the tracks chronologically - which helps to make the dynamic shifts between genres less incoherent, and generally makes for a better listening experience.

Part of the fun is Barnes’ lyrics - thankfully not masked in lo-fi distortion as Mangum’s often were - which have developed from dramatic narratives into bizarre stream-of-consciousness tracts. Sometimes it works to great, humours and heartbreaking effect - ‘Our love is senile’, he sings on the opening track, ‘Like a blind child bumping into walls’; on ‘Georgie’s Lament’ he opines ‘If you really cared about me / You wouldn’t flirt with my parole officer’ - sometimes it’s more laughable, when he gets into his faux-Ginsberg screeds - but the music carries on unabated.

A large part of the band’s shtick is Barnes’ glam get up onstage, and the queer/trans/body-positive attitude runs throughout the songs on ‘Daughter Of Cloud’; the ambiguous sexuality is one of many things of Montreal’s frontman shares with clear predecessor David Bowie, along with the effortless reinvention / genre-hopping as well as some recognisable vocal tics, the theatrical yearning in his voice and the affectation.

For such a madcap, experimental pop act, this is a reasonably cogent collection of songs, and one that serves as a decent follow up to their last ‘proper’ LP, ‘Paralytic Stalks’, released earlier this year.