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Of Montreal 

Satanic Panic in the Attic

Wednesday, May 5 2004
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There are a whole bunch of bands -- Apples in Stereo, Lilys, Of Montreal, and the like -- whose British Invasion- styled rock draws endless comparisons to the Beatles and their compatriots. Problem is, much of that '60s-inspired pop is just too damn poppy. The homages tend to take a single cue from a complex influence and run with it, producing an overly simplified imitation that's lacking in oomph and is often downright irritating.

Satanic Panic in the Attic, Of Montreal's fifth full-length album, avoids many of those pitfalls, though not all. The band flounders when it succumbs to the annoyances perpetuated by its retro colleagues: facile melodies, adenoidal vocals, and relentless repetition. The album opener, "Disconnect the Dots," is characterized by the grating refrain "Come disconnect the dots with me, poppet," and "Chrissy Kiss the Corpse" is just as irksome, with its taunting chorus and silly lyrics. "Eros' Entropic Tundra" is a tired rumination on romantic cynicism with whiney lines like "All I ever get is sad love/ While watching all my friends find their happy love." Fortunately, a stellar bass line makes this one listenable, unlike the dreary acoustic ballad "City Bird."

But the band excels when it delivers energy tinged with edge, as on the hip-shaking, cowbell-laden guitar ditty "My British Tour Diary." A plot unfolds in snappy couplets like "On our trip to England I noticed something obscene/ People still actually give a shit about the queen." And despite "Diary"'s dig at cabbies who listen to "the most truly repellent techno music ever made," Satanic Panic, on the whole, is utterly danceable, with enough hyperactive percussion to keep an entire junior-high drum line happy. With luck, it'll entertain restless retro fans, too.

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Nancy Einhart

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