Of Montreal shifted gears somewhere along the road: instead of psychedelic folkpop, they began dabbling in catchy, humorous electropop. That sound is at the heart of "Satanic Panic in the Attic," a solid album that preserves their weird sensibilities, but changes their sound.
It's obvious from the beginning that this is essentially a psychedelic dance album: "Disconnect the Dots" opens with a gloriously catchy electronic tune, which is just a few beats too slow from being "poppy." And the lunatic lyrics are kept the same in songs like the lighthearted "Lysergic Bliss": "And I'm dizzy from her kiss/so vertiginous lost in lysergic bliss."
After that, the sound gets even more diverse, with Afrobeats and xylophone get mixed in with Beatlesque guitar pop. Frontman Kevin Barnes even dabbles in bass-pop in "Lester Loses His Wife." The biggest break in form is an acoustic ballad in the fragile "City Bird," a flute-and-guitar number that urges a "city bird" to seek its true place in the sky.
Time has passed, and Of Montreal seems to have grown up a little. In "Satanic Panic," Barnes muses on how "all I ever get is sad love," and laments "I think the chemicals have done/some evil thing to me" over a buzzing acid-pop tune. Fortunately, these songs don't overshadow the fun that brims out of most of the other songs.: Mischief comes into the song with the wonderfully gruesome "Chrissy Kiss The Corpse," about some people having fun with a corpse at a bus stop.
There's a greater electronic influence in this album, something which might be "new-wavey" if it weren't as loopy and folky. Under the blips and waves, however, are some solid drums, guitars and basslines, which form the basis of the catchier tunes. True to their history, the band also weaves in some keyboard and odd instrumentation. (Xylophone?)
And Kevin Barnes presides over it all like an oddball god, turning his rather unmelodious voice into a fun centerpiece for every song. Not every singer could sing a love song that says, "All of these faces are crowding around me/with mouths open wide to devour/But they have no impact no I do not cower/knowing I'm safe in your tower."
"Satanic Panic in the Attic" settles happily into the niche the Beatles might have had, if they had played new wave psychedelica. Great fun, and a worthy Of Montreal album.