Montgomery: Stromboli

A five-piece from Rennes, the capital of Brittany, Montgomery have a sound that reflects little of the city’s 18th-century grandeur. Instead, they look to mid-80s shoegazing, motorik-period Stereolab and The Fleet Foxes.
Indeed, the opening cut, ‘Baleine’, shares its sonic architecture with the Seattle beardies. There are the slabs of gently strummed electric guitar, the twinkling arpeggios, those pattering drums and mass harmony vocals. But in French though. The ‘Twilight Zone’ aspect is reinforced on the penultimate track, ‘Sommeil’, another Fleet Foxes homage.
Once you get past these distractions, Montgomery reveal themselves as a contemplative bunch – a sudden eruption along the lines of the volcano they’ve named their second album after is unlikely. ‘6 Bonnes Raisons’ has some Phoenix-ish synth bloops as colour, but the repetition at the song’s core anchors a builder that could have graced an early Stereolab album. Elsewhere, ‘Reinette’ shrugs off the influences to produce something more off kilter: a wonky melody is tethered to a bass that climbs and falls like a struggling tractor. Chuck on some deranged bah-bah vocals and Montgomery have finally exhibited their voice rather than that of Rufus Wainwright, which they borrow for ‘Megaceros’.
Although engaging when its hits the mark, ‘Stromboli’ is a frustrating listen as so much unmediated familiarity bubbles up.
© Kieron Tyler