As is common in the Internet age of music appreciation, once I discovered how much I liked Of Montreal, I grabbed the discography, and had far too much music to go through at once. Of Montreal have kept up a steady one-album-per-year rate of output since 1997, and I found myself enjoying both their folkish first album and their most recent (at the time), so I figured everything in between would appeal to me as well. I lost patience with a lot of it and deleted a few albums that probably deserve a few other listens. Despite not liking Satanic Panic very much, it was one of the ones I kept, and it was only very recently that I came to enjoy it. Very much so, in fact.
Because my two favourite Of Montreal albums were separated by 9 years, there was a fairly large leap in style that perplexed me whenever I played both back to back. It was hard to reconcile the shift from The Gay Parade's silly piano-based indie pop to the manic depressive psychedelic disco funhouse on Hissing Fauna. Satanic Panic in the Attic fills that hole fairly well. Both the lyrics and singing styles are equal parts Gay Parade and Hissing Fauna, and although the synthy, funk bass-laden instrumentals lean towards later Of Montreal, there is often a acoustic guitar present that is nowhere to be found in albums like 2008's Skeletal Lamping.
Frontman Kevin Barnes has never been shy about making music with his influences on full display. A lot of his music could be called derivative, but that is failing to account for the skillful way he blends them together, which I believe is the root of Of Montreal's unique sound. Take the ninth track on Satanic Panic, "Chrissy Kiss The Corpse". It sounds like the result of some obscene collaboration between Brian Wilson and Joey Ramone. If you listen to the chorus and don't hear Rockaway Beach, you need to listen to Rocket to Russia again. The names of The Beach Boys and The Beatles are often invoked when discussing Of Montreal, and rightly so. Listen to track seven. "City Bird" is a very Lennon-esque acoustic ballad, and I challenge anyone familiar with the White Album to hear it without thinking of "Julia" or "I'm So Tired".
1. Disconnect the Dots (4:25)
2. Lysergic Bliss (4:04)
3. Will You Come and Fetch Me (1:59)
4. My British Tour Diary (2:19)
5. Rapture Rapes the Muses (3:03)
6. Eros' Entropic Tundra (3:12)
7. City Bird (2:20)
8. Erroneous Escape into Erik Eckles (2:48)
9. Chrissy Kiss the Corpse (2:40)
10. Your Magic Is Working (3:42)
11. Climb the Ladder (3:26)
12. How Lester Lost His Wife (2:31)
13. Spike the Senses (3:11)
14. Vegan in Furs (3:53)
In the second half of the 00's, Of Montreal developed into a platform for Barnes to present his findings about the meanings of love, life, and (especially) lust. That's not to say the music wasn't as fun as before. Their latest album, Skeletal Lamping, is Of Montreal's most danceable album to date, even at times when the subject matter is particularly dour. Satanic Panic in the Attic precedes the movement towards that, when the lyrics were just as bouncy and full of nonsense as the music. The album is fun, and for indie pop that's as good a quality to have as any other.
Satanic Panic in the Attic - Of Montreal - 2004 - Polyvinyl