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Sunday, March 21, 2004

LISTENING POST

RECORDED

Of Montreal: "Satanic Panic in the Attic"


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Many bands belonged to the now defunct Elephant 6 indie collective, but Of Montreal was definitely the most interesting. Leader Kevin Barnes is one of those snotty kid geniuses who releases everything that pops into his head, and while much of it is tripe, the good stuff is so good that the inconsistency of his records becomes that much more annoying.

On his latest album, the snottiness is worse than ever, but the inspiration never lets up. Song after sweet pop song hits you between the eyes as you wait for the inevitable bummer, the indulgence that he couldn't throw away, and it never comes. Each cut is built on sturdy melodies and spare, keyboard-based arrangements shot through with delicate vocal harmonies that take advantage of Barnes' naturally perky voice, which he no longer takes for granted.

What he does take for granted is his outlook on life, love and death, an outlook that most people will find bizarre. Sunny songs about LSD morph into anti-British diary entries, and alliterative exercises turn into rock songs about necrophilia. "Rapture rapes the muses," he sings, "but you don't notice that it's kissin' ya!" How could you possibly miss it?



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