Editors’ Notes “For the last 10 years, I've been documenting my life,” Kevin Barnes tells Apple Music. “All the reference points in the lyrics are things that I've been reading or movies that I've been watching, conversations that I've had. It’s all very much connected to my personal life.” His 16th full-length under the of Montreal banner finds Barnes breaking tradition to maintain it. Inspired by the immediacy of ’80s pop records by Janet Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and Culture Club, Barnes chose not to use cover art from his brother David or a similarly psychedelic album title—both long synonymous with of Montreal. In their place: UR FUN (“It’s just so modern,” he says) and a photo of himself and his partner, Christina Schneider, fused together behind the wheel of a classic red convertible. The songs are every bit as direct. Here, Barnes explains the story behind each.

Peace to All Freaks
“I think everybody that's on my side of things politically and spiritually and emotionally can identify with this need to circle the wagons and stay positive. And from 2016 to the current moment it's felt pretty negative and toxic and frightening, so I feel like, in a way, I wanted to write an anthem for people like me and people in my circle to stay strong for each other. I think a lot of times people don't realize how much of an impact your personal worldview and your personal state of mind has on other people around you. So, the line 'If you can do it for yourself, then do it for the rest of us'—it's like, if you're negative, if you're suicidal, it's easy to feel self-consumed and not think that you have a responsibility to the people that you love. It's important for us all to remember and to recognize that we do have a responsibility to each other and that we can't just lose ourselves in narcissism.”

Polyaneurism
“Directly influenced by somebody in my life that was involved in a polyamorous relationship. I’ve flirted with polyamory myself, and it's interesting because, depending on what your role is in the polyamorous relationship, it can, at a very obvious level, dictate what your feeling is about it. People get sucked into a polyamorous relationship when they really would rather just have a monogamous relationship, but they tried to be open-minded because if the choice is you can either have this person in your life or you can't, and you just have to play by their rules, then that makes it more complicated. This song is sung from the perspective of somebody that is trying to be open-minded but doesn't really know if it's sustainable and doesn't really know if they're finding themselves in a toxic situation.”

Get God’s Attention by Being an Atheist
“I was actually thinking and hoping the opening riff would be used in sporting events. It has a caveman energy to it, and I really love riff rock for that reason. I grew up listening to that kind of music—Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath—and when I first started learning how to play guitar, like a lot of people, I was learning how to play classic rock riffs. It’s fun to try to create something that could be a part of that canon and could potentially be at like a World Cup game and everyone's cheering like they do with that White Stripes song.”

Gypsy That Remains
“The big influence is ABBA—my girlfriend Christina is a huge fan, and this song is about us. The chorus—‘A box of rain in Chinese speakers, the morning after crying games’—that’s all about an experience that we had together on this vacation that we took. I thought it would be sweet to have her sing the harmony and to make it more of a duet. I've been playing in her band [Locate S,1] and I produced the last two records that she's made and she's helped me a lot with my songs. I say, ‘Inside of us there's a spirit that can't tamed,’ and that's the gypsy spirit. That restless energy that is essential to the creative process and to just getting anything out of life. Both of us have that, as seekers, as people that are looking for some kind of fulfillment out of life. It's just the way it is. I think it speaks to that, that we both have that part in our brains, and we just have to acknowledge it and accept it.”

You’ve Had Me Everywhere
“A lot of times I'll write autobiographical songs that come from a place of pain and unhappiness and frustration, but [‘Gypsy That Remains’ and ‘You’ve Had Me Everywhere’] are coming from a very beautiful and positive place. In a way, I feel like I'm more vulnerable when I'm singing about something that is nice and kind. So it was a challenge—I wanted to write a love song for Christina. Not to get too graphic, but that first line came to me after we had made love and we were just hugging each other. We were in that glow, that post-coital magical feeling when you're totally content and blissed out. We're on top of each other, and I was feeling her heartbeat through my chest, and that's when the lyric came to me, that I'm hearing her heartbeat, but in a lot of ways it's my heartbeat, because if her heartbeat ended, then mine would too.”

Carmillas of Love
“I was thinking about that connection between love and vampires—it does suck the life out of you, but in a good way. It becomes an entity in itself, because you just become really dependent on each other. And I always thought that people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. But they have it backwards, because needing somebody is actually a handicap. It puts you in a position of weakness, needing things. It's a cynical viewpoint, but the perfect organism would be an earthworm that doesn't need anything to exist. But we're not earthworms, so we need each other.”

Don’t Let Me Die in America
“As dark and as bleak as things might seem, I'd much rather live here than a lot of other places. I try to remember that whenever I'm thinking like, ‘God, this day fucking sucks.’ When I wrote that song, I had that mentality. Because sometimes, especially like the last couple of years, it just feels like it doesn't matter how many school shootings there are, nothing will ever change. The priorities that our leaders have are so backwards and so fucked up. Things like that just can drive you crazy, and it's easy to get off on a negative tangent if you focus on that side of things, so this song is representative of that feeling of just being so frustrated and pissed off with the political climate.”

St. Sebastian
“Christina and I were watching that Tennessee Williams adaptation, Suddenly, Last Summer, and there were a bunch of references to St. Sebastian. It's interesting—this martyr, beautiful boy figure, the saint that seems like the most homoerotic in a weird way. He’s always depicted with all these arrows in his body. I felt like I was being attacked by people that I used to be close with. People feel like they can say things about me and abuse me, especially on the internet. But these are people that I know and people that I used to be close with, people that were in the band back in the day that are saying shitty things about me. The song is a response to that. It's like, ‘So, you think you're better than me, and maybe you are, but it doesn't change anything. Your life still sucks and you're still a drunk and you're still unhappy.’”

Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha
“It's hard for me to maintain happiness for too long, so there's always going to be this drifting off into something more negative. That's one of the first songs that I wrote, before I fully embraced the positivity of the rest of the record. Everybody cuts themselves now, it seems like, as a form of weird therapy. I mean, I cut myself in the past as well, so not judging—your body is yours. I feel like the implication of deliberate self-harm is that you have control of it and it's this intentional thing that you're doing just to get attention and not a symptom of a completely toxic culture and society that we're all trying to navigate. I wouldn't blame somebody for cutting themselves or say that they are sick. I feel like culture is sick, society is sick, and you're just trying to do your best to keep your head above water. And sometimes you sink for a bit. That's what the ‘Ha Ha’ is a reference to. It's like, ‘Yeah, it's not your fault.’”

20th Century Schizofriendic Revengoid-man
“It's a play off of that King Crimson song ‘21st Century Schizoid Man.’ I could have called it something about dissociative disorder, because that's really what it’s about, but I wanted to give it a more playful title. I've struggled with dissociative disorder my whole life. It’s hard. There's not really a medicine for it. All the drugs that people can take for depression, anxiety, any kind of schizophrenia—it's like they're a shot in the dark. I'm on antidepressants and I self-medicate, but you can't just cure yourself of those things. You have to figure out ways to deal with them and refocus energy into something more positive. The song is like, ‘I can't go to work today because I've forgotten how to be human.’ That feeling of, like, ‘I don't even know what this thing is. What is this thing? What is my hand doing? What's my body doing?’ You're so self-aware that it's almost paralyzing. Everything seems completely unreal, because it's like, you go to bed, you wake up, you go to bed, you wake up, you go to bed, you wake up, you go to bed, you wake up. Sometimes just the weight of all of those days makes everything feel like, ‘Why am I doing this again?’”

SONG
Peace To All Freaks
1
4:44
 
Polyaneurism
2
3:30
 
Get God's Attention By Being an Atheist
3
3:50
 
Gypsy That Remains
4
4:18
 
You've Had Me Everywhere
5
4:46
 
Carmillas of Love
6
3:59
 
Don't Let Me Die In America
7
3:35
 
St. Sebastian
8
4:05
 
Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha
9
4:20
 
20th Century Schizofriendic Revengoid-man
10
3:23
 

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