of Montreal release their 17th album: We could all use a little more weird, right?

of Montreal

I Feel Safe with You, Trash

Sybaritic Peer · March 5, 2021


As a musical artist, releasing an album is not always a straightforward task. There is the struggle of inspiration, the pressure to make something that your fans will appreciate, but isn’t so similar to your previous work that they’ll become bored. It’s a delicate balance between keeping the album interesting while staying within one’s limits. This is all before the process of recording and producing the music is even a factor. For most artists, four or five albums is really the maximum, at which point difficulties such as burnout or boredom start to set in.

It would appear that of Montreal is the exception to this. Since 1997, the group has released an album consistently every 1-2 years, each time providing a work that is fresh and full of momentum. This one is no exception. 

The self-released double album I Feel Safe with You, Trash is of Montreal’s 17th release to date, and it undoubtedly succeeds in having a wildly individual sound. All 20 songs on the record feature futuristic, almost non-musical sounds. It’s similar to the hyperpop sound that has recently taken off, with heavy distortion, synth-layered sounds, and other computery sounds extremely present. 

However, unlike most hyperpop, these sounds are more carefully interwoven with traditional instrumentation. The slightly dissonant chords, the gentle vocalizations, and the eclectic guitar solos keep the sound semi-grounded in reality. These two tones are interesting enough on their own, but this album is more about a mix of the two, rather than letting one overpower the other. It is this mesh that of Montreal seems to be so masterful at on this album. In doing so, they have not only succeeded in making something different, but furthermore have made a sound that is truly one of a kind – a sound of chaos.

Even the structure of songs feels a bit nonsensical. Time signatures change on the fly. Some tone shifts make it feel like another song started halfway through the first. Many things about the writing do not match typical “correct” standards of Pop Music 101. The tempo is not standard, the chords are not beautiful, nothing about it says “easy listening.” However, that certainly does not take away from its intrigue. In other words, the sound is weird, and little off-putting, but in a way that complements the art, rather than harming it.

Looking at the album art alone, the listener can get a sense of the chaos they are about to listen to. Fever-dream drawings of monsters are the highlight, in front of a lo-fi computer graphics grid, an empty vast world that contrasts sharply with the highly detailed creatures. This visual representation is basically one-to-one with the music of the album. The 20 songs here are discordant, even eerie at times. Nearly each track features cryptic lyrics of darkness – topics include mind control, crucifixion, murder, and radicalization, to name a few. 

The song “Aries Equals Good Trash” exemplifies this aspect of unease, as the phrase “I’m here to serve you, I am here to deserve your love” is repeated throughout, almost in a chant-like manner. Many times, the lyrics are sung in a low, emotionless tone, coming to the listener more as a sermon than one’s personal feelings. It is clearly up to the audience to piece together what exactly they are being told. Is this someone’s personal lament? A tale of demonic underworlds? Complete nonsense? of Montreal may not have an answer, but they sure do provide an experience in this hour of listening.

I Feel Safe with You, Trash will bring you into another plane of existence, taking you on a ride of demons and aliens. The album may not be for everyone, but the sheer level of experimentation of new sounds and ideas demands respect. It seems that once again, of Montreal has produced a one-of-a-kind album, creating something that truly has never been heard before. It’s a trip and a half, in the greatest way. We could all use a little more weird, right?

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