Following the loss of two members and the collapse of their record label, multi-instrumentalist and band leader Kevin Barnes took it into his own hands to pull the strings on Satanic Panic in the Attic. By writing and recording most of the record himself, his personality shines through more so than on previous releases, resulting in a shift of direction for the band when compared to prior benchmarks of their discography, such as The Gay Parade. “Lysergic Bliss” is a choice cut that echoes the qualities of the album quite well, beginning with a lazy, warm, summer pop jangle,before the song is interrupted half way through by a woman’s voice: “Gentlemen, remember your breathing, 1, 2, 3, 4.." Similarly, in “Spike the Senses”, the otherwise tame pop number is pulled off course into a throbbing, brief, psychedelic interlude that injects a newfound life into the end of the song. It’s from one end straight to the other and they're brave moves that Barnes pulls off with well earned songwriting maturity (with five LPs already under his belt at this point).
What this release most importantly represents, however, is the shift of direction that Barnes has taken that has lifted his songs above Sgt. Pepper tributes and to a place that feels far more individual. His influences are still clearly evident, but this is a sound that has become distinctly Of Montreal’s. Some of this can be attributed to the lyrics, which are decidedly more melancholy and coherent than on previous, more lyrically obscure releases. For example, lyrics off the softly strummed “City Bird” are among the most beautiful Barnes has ever written: “City bird, haven’t you heard / of the boundlessness of your freedom"” His sentiments are backed up by the music, with "My British Tour Diary" feeling as whimsical and tongue-in-cheek as the lines he delivers: "Every single one of our London cabbies played / The most truly repellent techno music ever made".
That Satanic Panic in the Attic ends up as self-indulgent as it is, at times, makes some amount of sense considering the brain that produced it. This is sun-soaked psychedelic pop for the connoisseurs.