Suffering Is Stiff: of Montreal Courts Trauma on “my fair lady”

No relation to Pygmalion.

Last month, Kevin Barnes—the prismatic, tirelessly prolific, and seemingly never rushed frontman of Georgia-based of Montreal—announced his group’s latest album, Innocence Reaches, which is slated for release mid-August. Barnes gave us a little peek into what’s to come with last month’s debut of “it’s different for girls,”—and today, the gates of Olympus opened a crack more. “my fair lady” is so stark in its declaration, it almost appears as though we’ve caught Barnes mid-thought: “My lady’s back at home / Cutting herself and sending me photographs.”

Though not wildly publicized, the track was translucently released as a demo on 50 Bands & a Cat for Indiana Equalitya compilation in support of Indiana’s LGBT community. The song, originally titled “She Courts Calamity,” is a jingle devoid of any buoyancy—a demeanor not atypical of the troupe. It skirts along like a recapitulation of everything of Montreal has done to date—from the merry, chime-like compositions of The Sunlandic Twins to the mercurial, romantic sufferings of Hissing Fauna. Any dedicated of Montreal disciple is likely no stranger to Barnes’s portrayal of the self-reflexivity and often maniacal discordance attendant upon falling in love, suffering in love, and witnessing love’s inaudible destruction.

From a first read, “my fair lady” appears callously far away, like an uncaring call to escape burden: “She courts calamities… I’m ashamed to admit your mind has traumatized me… Because you’ve been so abused / I have to give all the love that was meant for you to some other girl.” Relating to this feels cold hearted, but then we reach the interlude. Underneath the fractured echo chamber, Barnes abandons the aloof, the cerebral bursts, and we finally hear him—the unwelcome boarder of his own mind—plead: “Won’t you change?/ Not for me, but for you, for yourself.”

Read our list, In Good Company: The 19 Best Name-Dropping References from of Montreal.

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