Lousy with Sylvianbriar is of Montreal's twelfth studio album. An inspiring feat. It becomes even more impressive given the fact that Lousy With Sylvianbriar is one of the best albums the band has put out to date. Having once been part of The Elephant 6 Recording Company (the now infamous, but defunct, label), the pressure has always been on of Montreal to create something worthy of their patronage.

Kevin Barnes, the band's lead, has succeeded already with a number of great albums during his prolific career, most notably with The Gay Parade and Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, both of which garnered praise from both critics and the public alike. Lousy With Sylvianbriar certainly matches these albums at its best moments, occasionally lapsing at its weakest.

This album sounds a lot like the follow up to Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest; lo-fi and raw, it's the most stripped down Kevin Barnes has been in years. It's a wonderful base upon which the lyrics shine and become the focal point - helping the album connect in just the right way. Kevin Barnes is on form; witty and cutting, and never letting this get in the way of melody. He makes you believe in the direction the album is taking straight from the get-go. Whilst The Gay Parade is often described as of Montreal's Sergeant Pepper's..., Lousy With Sylvianbriar is their Abbey Road: refined, polished, and just the right side of playful.

This isn't' an album that's far removed from what they've done before, this is still unmistakably of Montreal. 'Triumph Of Disintegration' merges this lo-fi garage rock sound with the signature high pitched vocal line we've heard throughout the band's back catalogue. At the track's start, you can't help but feel it doesn't fit quite right into the album's running, but by the end it's justified. 'She Ain't Speakin' Now' performs a similar trick, and the effect is that of Barnes splitting a physical object in two - glimpsing at its heart. Lousy With Sylvianbriar comes across as one of the band's most personal records to date for this very reason.

However, some tracks don't land in the same way as others. 'Hegira Émigré' is a bluesy number, noodling its way throughout, making it feel a bit redundant (even if it does keep in theme with the rest of the album). 'Sirens Of Your Toxic Spirit' will either sit well with your or not. It comes in quite early on in the album and slows things down a great deal. It has its own charm which works well, but coming after the upbeat, groovy 'Belle Glade Missionaries', it feels a little out of place in the running order.

On the whole, there's a lot of gold to be found here. 'Obsidian Currents' showcases Barnes' ability after all these years to still create a simple, meandering melody which he can carry along with his charisma and charm. 'Amphibian Days' is delivered with the drawl of a rebellious teenager, and bubbles with a wonderful grounding of piano and guitar throughout. Album closer, 'Imbecile Rages', is a rough splinter of a track, letting Barnes loose on the melody with his voice acting like a cleaver, cutting into what could be an otherwise uneventful track. There's no 'Our Riotous Defects' on this album; this isn't an album for novelty. Everything feels genuine and real, grounded and believable.

of Montreal have created another genuinely exciting album, and it's brilliant to be able to maintain that with twelve albums already in the bag.