Polyvinyl Records (label)
21 January 2020 (released)
21 January 2020
If you thought falling in love was the hardest part, think again. Staying, remaining and maintaining that love is the real hurdle. After the ‘lets’-get-it-on-pill-popping-heart-dropping’ White is Relic/Irrealis Mood of Montreal da capo, Kevin Barnes, is continuing the very public manner of articulating and outlining his ‘going-steady’ status for amour fou, fellow artiste Christina Schneider (of Locate S.1).
Using the LP format as an anybody’s diary, free to peek, Barnes has turned out ten songs of birthday suit repute, naked and unashamed for all to ogle: a virtual voyeur’s dream with a nightmarish detour into the parlous state of Uncle Sam’s psyche.
Never shy of advertising his cultural capital, ‘UR FUN’ is pollinated with numerous literary and cultural reference points designed to perk and pique even the most amateur critical theorist (there’s a veritable smorgasbord – the Italian giallo films of Mario Bava, queer novel Horse Crazy by Gary Indiana, Panamanian pop star El General, 80’s sci-fi movie Liquid Sky, Big Star’s cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale,” French death metal group Death Throne, and Tropicalia troubadour Caetano Veloso’s love song “Cucurucucu Paloma”).
Self-written, self-produced and self-everything, Barnes delivers an unabashed love letter to Schneider that draws from 1980s titans Cyndi Lauper and Janet Jackson and their perky pop-dominance and also evokes The Cars as fronted by Spider from Mars and glam-axeman Mick Ronson (Ronno’s Northern twang-tones are royally resurrected on ‘Polyaneurism’, ‘You’ve had me everywhere’ and the closing ‘Schizofriendic Revengold Man’ ).
‘Peace to all freaks’ is a call to armful embrace, a plea for (comm)union, imploring harmonious harmony from all to be nice for - and to – yourself, do it for ‘us’, the greater good. Barnes raps ‘if you’re dead inside you don’t really age’ a swipe-snark at the cold fish, the emotionally still born, the dead-eyed drones.
‘Polyaneurism’ sees Barnes reclaiming the synth-stabs to the heart that Future Islands have mass-marketed and monetised, a limbo-addressing paean to the precarities of loose-willed passion and the realisation that there comes a time when you can’t have everything all ways, choices have to be made. And stuck with … for better or worse …
The bouncing, renouncing ‘Gypsy that remains’ is a tale of apposites distracting/opposites refracting, our protagonist (Barnes) reeling off a litany of binary conundrums: ‘I love myself … I hate myself’ all dependent on Schneider’s proximity: the overall effect a (bi)polarising stand-offish limbo.
There’s a timely tirade on the ailing ‘land of the free’ © on the early-Blur evoking ‘Don’t let me die in America’, a situation so torturous is expressed that has Barnes resigned to not even wanting to ‘haunt this place’. A millennial declaration of ill-dependence.
The standout is ‘Deliberate Self Harm, Ha Ha’ a slow-grooving glam-stomper that feels akin to the first fearful flush of ecstatic comedown (allegedly). The party’s over, the lights are on, the eyes daren’t deceive what they perceive.
‘UR FUN’ is a postmodern patchwork of melodious monogamy at odds with malodourous malevolence from the (s)elected systematic sociopaths.