Let's face it, there's only a certain amount a band can do within the indie pop realm before proceedings start to get a little stale. The band loses its magic of being able to write those killer, twee numbers and the public start to get a little weary. Of Montreal's decision to change things up, even if it wasn't drastic, on Satanic Panic in the Attic was a smart move. It wasn't a big left-turn, just one that introduced a few new ideas which ultimately opened up a few different paths for the band to go down, which they ultimately did. It's one of those important albums that won't always get the most praise, nevertheless, it's important all the same.

Placing Satanic Panic in the Attic in a kind of historical context gives us an idea of how unique this album is for its time; there's enough going on in every song and there's a wide range of influences and ideas cropping up it's easy to link and compare Satanic Panic... to strikingly different bands, however, there's never enough of one thing to pigeonhole of Montreal in 2004. The most apt comparison would be to other psychedelic pop bands that were cropping up in the mid 2000s that focused more on the pop than the psychedelic, The Coral for example.

While Satanic Panic... has that laid back feel and a pretty strong focus on song structure there's enough weirdness to set it apart from those types of bands, the odd minor chord here or the odd flight from the verse-chorus-verse structure that makes the album just a little odd. Sometimes that weirdness is a little disconcerting, as if the summery and happy tones are just a façade. That being said, it's certainly not weird enough to stray into Animal Collective territory, there's too much structure for that, but never does it feel as though it's sitting on a musical fence and playing safe by only being as weird as it has to and never more. Also, much was said in 2004 about the forays into electronic territory on Satanic Panic... but it's never really on the level as other indie bands at the beginning of the decade so it's impossible to lump of Montreal in with that crowd too, but there's enough drum machine handclaps in the middle of the organic sounding noises to make things sound a little different.

This is certainly the case in 'Disconnect The Dots'. The song encapsulates everything that's great about Satanic Panic in the Attic. Dreamy vocals, meandering instrumental sections, summerscapes, electronics bubbling away under the surface but making their presence heard; everything is here. Whenever one aspect threatens to pull the song into that direction another pops up and so the cycle continues, the brilliance of the songwriting being there's a clear structure to hold everything together. That's the thing about Satanic Panic..., the musical ambition within each song is allowed to blossom because of the strong sense of structure, and I don't just mean time signatures and tempo, I mean the way the songs are divided into parts and how long those parts are allowed to play out.

This isn't a simple intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle-chorus-outro affair and because of that all the different aspects, like in 'Disconnect The Dots' seem natural. 'Lysergic Bliss' would sound completely wrong if any part was taken away, even though each third sounds remarkably different to the other, and that's a testament to the fact of Montreal don't dwell on one part for too long. If they did the changes would be too jarring as you've become comfortable with what you're listening to. All of this sets Satanic Panic in the Attic up to be a challenging listen, but you wouldn't think of it in that way because of how nice and warm it sounds.

I haven't listened to Satanic Panic in the Attic for years but I've come to love it that little bit more listening to it to write this piece. It's an album that allows you to get whatever you want out of it. You could play it in the middle of the summer out in the garden with a cider or two and it doesn't just work a little bit, it's perfect for that type of situation. On the flip side, you can spend a serious amount of time with this album with headphones on in a room on your own; there's so much going on it requires some serious concentration if you want to pick up on every little nuance. It's still a challenging listen (if you want it to be) and it still sounds fresh ten years after its initial release which is a pretty big testament to it. Satanic Panic in the Attic isn't just Beatles-esque psych tunes, it's much, much more.

Satanic Panic in the Attic was released on April 6th 2004 by Polyvinty Records.