Of Montreal Satanic Panic in the Attic

[Polyvinyl; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie pop, Elephant 6, cloying twee
Others: Apples in Stereo, Elf Power, Beulah,

The Elephant-6 Collective is dead and gone, it seems. Its finest members, Neutral Milk Hotel and the Olivia Tremor Control, are either defunct or in a permanent state of hiatus, while "friends-of" bands like Beulah and the Apples in Stereo have also broken up or seen a falloff in quality of output. Never my favorite of the E6 bands, the cloyingly twee Of Montreal, a project of one Kevin Barnes, jumped labels to notoriously hit-or-miss imprint Polyvinyl (Rainer Maria, AM/FM, Aloha), and surprisingly has issued the strongest record of their career.

Satanic Panic in the Attic is a typically sprawling piece of music for Of Montreal. It runs only 43 minutes, but in that space, the band manage to throw in everything but the kitchen sink in winsome pop experimentation. After the first two tracks, you'll swear you've heard at least four songs go by. Indeed, it's a credit to the band that each track is packed remarkably full of ideas for a group this far into its career. "Will You Come and Fetch Me?" glides effortlessly on bells, chimes, and strings. "My British Tour Diary" is a fun little rocker that's a dead ringer for the British Invasion.

Everything here is what you'd expect from the halcyon days of Elephant-6 -- that is to say, it sounds like a fun, psychedelic '60s pop record. It's bouncy, colorful, and pretension-free. If you're sick of this shit, Of Montreal aren't playing for you. On the other hand, if Beulah's break-up announcement made you the least bit upset, here's an album to fill the void.

1. Disconnect the Dots
2. Lysergic Bliss
3. Will You Come and Fetch Me
4. My British Tour Diary
5. Rapture Rapes the Muses
6. Eros' Entropic Tundra
7. City Bird
8. Erroneous Escape into Erik Eckles
9. Chrissie Kiss the Corpse
10. Your Magic Is Working
11. Climb the Ladder
12. How Lester Lost His Wife
13. Spike the Senses
14. Vegan in Furs