The name Barnes, and main creative outlet of Montreal (they have, for this album, gone through a near-complete line-up transformation) have made for themselves, is based around weirdness. Oddities. Strange things. Songs veering between extremes, never going quite where expected. Clever turns of phrases.
Which is why ‘Lousy With Sylvianbriar’ is so disappointing. In delving deep in to the Great American Songbooks of the past, Barnes has created something that doesn’t just flirt with normality, it basks in it. Opener ‘Fugitive Air’ is, at best, a mobile phone company’s impression of Beck, and at worst it’s a mere “sunshiiiiine” away from being tailor made for Liam Gallagher.
Sixties-esque guitar sounds and Seventies soft-rock with neither glam nor sleaze might be great for road trips, but for a group whose best moments are when they teeter on just about every edge imaginable, it’s just… boring.
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