It’s hard to know what to say about of Montreal. Having been around since 1996, they’re certainly vets of the industry, and with a discography that boasts shift after shift in style, lyricism and conception, if there’s one thing you can expect of the band, it’s that you’re always going to be surprised. This is undoubtedly a defining characteristic of the band that has come to the fore with the release of their latest, Daughter of Cloud.
Billed as a rarities compilation of songs written across five years (from 2007 to 2012), the album is the band’s second of the year, and is the perfect testament to the band’s variability. Elements of all kinds of acts, from those that predate of Montreal to those that have almost certainly drawn on them for inspiration, can be heard on this record. Animal Collective, Phoenix, Prince, even The Beatles all seem to make appearances in the undercurrents of the album’s 17-track run. At times it really just seems like a whole lot of nonsense, while other moments of traditional indie normalcy (“Our Love is Senile”) can take you by surprise.
As a whole, Daughter of Cloud is impossible to classify under any unifying feature, other than to note that the entire experience of listening to the album is wholly disorienting, like some sort of psychedelic, feverish, raving dream-nightmare sequence. In the best possible way, of course. The sounds are engaging and the band is lyrically solid. While they’re certainly not writing tunes to showcase their deepest and darkest secrets, lines like “Your attitude is impossible to dance to/I hate myself when you touch me” are the perfect blend of loaded and aloof to keep you engaged without being emotionally draining. The bottom line is that Daughter of Cloud is an album that doesn’t seem to be about anything in particular but features a little bit of everything. Whether or not it works is irrelevant — with 16 years in the biz under their belt, the variability is a badge that they’ve earned and wear well.