When you’re already aware of just how much music Anton Barbeau has released over the past three decades as a solo songwriter mostly working within the realm of power pop, you may not be surprised to hear that his latest collection Morgenmusik/Nachtschlager—his first album this year after releasing four in 2022—takes the form of a massive double LP. If you weren’t already aware of that fact, Barbeau may appear as somewhat of an enigma within the realm of psych-tinged pop-rock, flying largely under the radar throughout his career while aligning himself with some powerful allies (members of XTC, The Soft Boys, and Elf Power all appear on the new record). Yet Barbeau himself may not always be the most reliable narrator when it comes to his own music.
“Whereas my previous double album, [2020’s] Manbird, was relentlessly autobiographical, Morgenschlager has me bending truths and living a false life or two,” he shares before embracing his status as a fringe figure among his scene. “I still keep expecting the knock at my door from The Man telling me, ‘Your songs are fab, here’s a million dollars!’ I didn’t set out to be a secret cult dude, but I’ve also never tried hard to market myself as anything other than whatever I am. And ‘a songwriter in the surrealist pop tradition’ is what I am, so I’ve read.”
Before his new collection of songs (31 in total) officially drops this Friday, Barbeau is making them all available to hear early today with an exclusive album stream, from opening track “Waiting on the Radio”—“the purest pop song I’ve written” that “will be huge in 1973 someday”—to closer “Help Yourself to a Biscuit,” which is, in Barbeau’s words, “your standard-issue kraut/psych hypno-drone” recording. In between you’ll find the first song he ever wrote (“Come Back,” allegedly at age 13), musical guests adding their own unique flavors (ranging from flamenco to “yodeling” courtesy of a duet between his wife and his dog), and even spoken-word interludes, among other highly specific nuggets (“a drunk Hungarian on a train sings ‘Happy Birthday’ over the drone of Czech women chanting in a church in Prague”).
Needless to say, it’s a totally unique listen which is available to stream below (you can also wait until the respective live streams for Morgenmusik and Nachtschlager, or the listening party for the both of them). “I hope you enjoy it,” Barbeau concludes, “and thanks for the million dollars!”