As far as I can tell, Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes should exist as the forefront role model to independent artists in the twenty-first century. Subsisting for almost twenty years on a smorgasbord of sounds, shape shifting genres into a cohesive persona, without darting away from the risks of evolving- these are the qualities that have allowed the group such longevity. For decades, Of Montreal has been the iconic experimental pop-group, whose appeal is both diverse and sensible enough to land a song on the majority of people’s musical playlists.
It is a consistent fear for any artist to wonder what will happen when they reach the peak of their popularity- and to strike a balance between delivering digestible work, while challenging their own conventional modes of expression. As Dylan says, “He not busy being born is busy dying,” and those compelled to make art often feel compelled to change art.
For Kevin Barnes, there has always existed a harmony between his ability to draw on different pop and folk influences, from the pop-rock sounds of the British Invasion to the emotive prowess of Prince. Through twelve LPS, Barnes has used artistic license to explore the many variations of sounds grounded within the parameters of a catchy composition. From their debut Cherry Pee- a twee-pop collection of digestible melodies- to their latest Lousy With SylvianBriar– an appeal to honest lyricism inspired by the literary catches of North California, Barnes has found a way to honor the most iconic artists in an original and distinctive fashion.