I’m going to start out this review with a disclaimer: Daughter of Cloud is a collection of seventeen rarities and un-released b-tracks from the last 6 years. For a band as psychedelic and uncanny as of Montreal, lost tracks like these are bound to be especially different. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that a listener who is not accumulated to the virtuosity of the band’s front-man, Kevin Barnes, may not quite “get” this album at first.
Although it is a very extensive look at the band and all the changes they’ve gone through sonically and stylistically, for of Montreal virgins, I would recommend checking out either Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer? or Sunlandic Twins before delving into Daughter of Cloud .
The construction of the album is also really important to comprehend; about half of the album is taken up by outtakes from Hissing Fauna (’07), False Priest (’10), and Skeletal Lamping (’08) and the other half Barnes had written just before album releases, so they weren’t ready in time. As an avid fan, I must admit, I had a fun time trying to pair each song with what year it was written.
The album starts off with its strongest song, “Our Love is Senile.” An out-take from Hissing Fauna, this track combines all that the band does brilliantly: a catchy guitar riff, Barnes’ clear tenor voice and some truly awesome breakdowns.
There is an immediate change of gears, though, as the album takes us on a stroll through False Priest–land with five outtakes from this soul-filled, erotic, and poppy album. The album’s inclusion of drum beats, Beatles-like tight harmonies and synthesizers galore is echoed through these tracks, which flow together extremely well; a quick warning though, it does get pretty sexual, even for Kevin Barnes’ standards, so watch out!
We are then transported to two years earlier with two tracks from Skeletal Lamping (’08). This album was written from the standpoint of Barnes’ alter-ego, black drag queen, Georgie Fruits. Barnes emulates Bowie through the first minute of the “Georgie’s Lament,” with chill piano accompaniment, floating melodies and very clean articulation…but the song picks up speed and ends a poppy, rhythmic anthem.
The rest of the album keeps the listener guessing—with the appearance of lead female vocals from Rebecca Cash on “Feminine Effects,” a twangy, smooth ballad—as well as the cover of Neil Young’s “Expecting to Fly.”
Barnes’ ability to integrate the fast and the slow, the poppy and the smooth never fails to amaze me. Even when presented with the challenge of pairing songs of completely different concepts and philosophies, he manages to create a flow, spontaneous as it may sometimes be, resulting in an immersive and cohesive “sampler” of the band’s unreleased tracks.
(An Extremely Biased) W-P-G ½
RIYL David Bowie, Prince, Animal Collective
Songs: “Our Love is Senile”, “Feminine Effects”, “Tender Fax”
Check out “Our Love is Senile” Here: