OF MONTREAL with the MANAGEMENT at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Tuesday (August 30). $11. 416-532-1598, www.ofmontreal.net. Rating: NNNNN
Just so you know, Of Montreal aren't even Canadian, let alone from Montreal.
And yet they're being associated with Arcade Fire.
The band, dreamed up by Kevin Barnes, has already been noticed in a Spin magazine article linking his group to the Canadian city dubbed "the next Seattle."
"It's kind of an erroneous connection," he says on the phone from his home base in Athens, Georgia, "but I don't mind being associated with Montreal bands. A lot of those bands are really good."
Of Montreal (named after the hometown of a woman who broke Barnes's heart, if you must know) are about to embark on their most ambitious tour yet, promoting their newest album, The Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl), across North America in September and on to Japan in October and Europe in November.
Their live performances combine their infectious sound with slow-mo choreography, lighting and costume changes, all devised by them.
"It's definitely important for us to have some fun with it. You see so many bands who just come out in their street clothes and rock out, and that's kind of the indie thing to do.
"Especially if you're on a long tour, you need that theatre. Otherwise, it becomes kind of tedious. We like having the different elements. It's an exciting way to break up the show. Our performances become a really fun dance party where people can let go of their inhibitions."
While the core of the band's sound (think Kinks) remains, influences have shifted dramatically from their Rubber Soul-esque 1997 debut, Cherry Peel, through the token psychedelia associated with former label Elephant 6 to their newest work, which Barnes describes as a combination of Afrobeat, reggae dub and Little Red Corvette-era Prince.
So is this a natural evolution or intentional?
"It's pretty organic. I get bored working in the same genre. Every inspiration is a natural thing that just happens to influence a record. The next album will definitely be lyrically more personal, musically more schizophrenic.
"It's all about adding more colours to your palette. Five years ago I didn't know about electroclash or Afrobeat, and I had fun discovering them. Who knows? I might pick up some weird Russian folk music that could be the next sound."
The band is involved in diverse projects - most members belong to other outfits, including the Marshmallow Coast and Great Lakes - and Barnes has a personal project of his own. He married Nina, the band's Norwegian bass player, before the birth of their daughter, seven-month-old Alabee. The baby inspired the first single from The Sunlandic Twins, So Begins Our Alabee.
"I didn't go the Kenny Loggins route writing songs about her. I freaked out, which is probably more realistic. So probably on the next record you'll hear a lot of stuff about how I'm freaking out and don't know what to do."
So no Return To Pooh Corner covers. But you could say that Barnes, with his history of incredibly lavish concept albums describing the life of various characters and mythical creatures, will at least invent some pretty killer bedtime stories.
"We haven't really got there yet. Maybe I'll try once she starts understanding English."
The Toronto show will be their 10th North American gig on this tour. When they head to Japan, it will be for the second time in four years. Japanese fans have a unique reaction to the music.
"When you finish a song, total applause for 10 seconds, then total silence. Out of respect, you know."