Kevin and Christina make out in a car at the airport, flipping off the police officer that tells them to keep moving. Kevin and Christina discuss taking ecstasy as couple’s therapy. Kevin and Christina break down and then reconnect. The new love we heard about on the last of Montreal record, White is Relic/Irrealis Mood, is settling. If that was the falling-in-love record, then this is the staying-in-love record. That was the easy part; this is the interesting part, the challenging part, the next chapter of Kevin Barnes’ autobiographical album streak, UR FUN.
The public diary that started with of Montreal’s classic album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? has continued into a growing string of increasingly personal works. On UR FUN, Barnes is more candid than ever, presenting ten concise electro-pop songs that expose the depths of their current life, their private thoughts—both optimistic and brooding—and their passionate relationship with songwriter Christina Schneider of Locate S,1. This ramped-up vulnerability has inspired Barnes to strip their stage persona of costumes and drag, just appearing as themself on recent tours for the first time in many years.
After several albums recorded with collaborators and various band members, Barnes opted to record this one completely alone. In their home studio in Athens, Georgia, Barnes isolated themself in creative hibernation, working obsessive 12-plus hour days arranging manic synth and drum machine maps on a computer screen with bouncy, melodic basslines, glam guitars and layered vocal harmonies. Inspired by albums like Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual and Janet Jackson’s Control, Barnes set out to make UR FUN into the kind of album where every song could be a single, complete with huge hooky choruses and nostalgic dance grooves. The result is an unstoppably fun album that could also pass for a carefully sequenced greatest-hits collection if taken out of context.
UR FUN’ s final moments bring the self-examination of the record full circle with some darker numbers that lament a lost friendship and slips of mental clarity. If the album’s bleak ending leaves you feeling hopeless, flip the record over again and remind yourself “Hush, hush, don’t let’s be negative.”