Friday, July 20, 2007

Montag--Going Places (2007)

Album-Going Places
Release Date-Jun 5, 2007
Genre/Style-Indie Electronic


Review-On Going Places, Montag's Antoine Bédard collaborates with a bunch of his friends (including M83's Anthony Gonzales, Stars' Amy Millan, and Au Revoir Simone), and ends up making the most confident, dazzling album of his career. Bédard's music has been moving toward poppier sounds and more structured songs since Alone, Not Alone, but even compared to that album, Going Places is a big leap forward. Here, Bédard feels a lot less indebted to his immediate influences. His gift for crafting atmospheres is now in service to gorgeous melodies and arrangements, and even though the concept of a sonic mastermind drafting his pals to sing on his songs feels very close to the approach of, say, Dntel, the results are uniquely Montag. Bédard plays with two major sonic motifs on Going Places: '60s lounge-pop and '80s synth pop. Crucially, though, he doesn't milk either sound for kitsch value; in fact, in Bédard's hands, they sound pretty timeless. "I Have Sound" kicks off the album with an aptly named confection of timpani, acoustic guitar, woodwinds, subtle keyboards, and layer upon layer of Bédard's vocals. The song's widescreen sound and vulnerable lyrics ("I have sound, I have heart") make it a sweetly sophisticated update on the Beach Boys' teenage symphonies. "Mechanical Kids" is even lusher and trippier, blossoming into a psychedelic march with dazzling flutes and synths, while "322 Water" is like an audio mobile, with electronics, choral vocals, and sweeping harps and strings turning and twinkling throughout the song. On songs like "Hands Off, Creature!" and "Plus Grand Que," Bédard's fusion of electronic pop and vintage easy listening is distinct from that of Stereolab or Air (though Going Places is some of the best competition Air have had when it comes to making lush, cinematic music par excellence) — instead of the detached elegance of those two bands, his music has an earnestness that is especially disarming. Montag's forays into synth pop are just as appealing, especially the fizzy, busy "Best Boy Electric," a celebration of new love that serves as a welcome reminder that electronic-based music isn't necessarily cold or distant. "No One Else" continues the romantic, uplifting feel that gives Going Places so much charm: this is music about love that also sounds like it's in love with making music, and its joy is irresistible.

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