If you are wondering how When I Think of You in a Castle, one of the great rock records of 2018, came to be, grab some popcorn and I’ll tell you the tale. In the land of Chicago, the guys of Post Animal were stressed late at night with the assignment of writing their debut LP. Having formerly released two exciting psychedelic rock EPs in the past couple years, this should have been a breeze for the six friends. But somehow the stakes seemed higher as they contemplated a full-length album. As the night dragged on, the group popped Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure into the VCR, hoping to find some inspiration from the similarly-fated duo scrambling through space and time to complete their own assignment. And with the help of some other psychedelic paraphernalia, Post Animal was hit with inspiration like lightning. As time and space converged in the film through the famous telephone booth at the Circle K, they realized time and space would also converge for them through the magical jukebox called Spotify, which held all the great rock and rollers of history.
“We could be ‘Everywhere All at Once’,” they realized. And thus the journey into rock’s annals entitled When I Think of You in a Castle was launched. Rain began to fall. The gentle acoustic guitar arpeggios picked on the cabin porch were slowly transported by swirling synths and purple haze into the tight, electric melodies of Thin Lizzy and early Queen. “Time’s slippin’, I’ve been slippin’ up / Clocks ticking and the spaces never feel like enough,” the narrator begins on “Gelatin Mode”, marking the beginning of a high-speed space journey to whatever planet produced such artifacts as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Baby Driver soundtracks. The narrator is then met mid-flight by a cosmic guide who responds in the dreamy chorus, “I know it’s getting hard to navigate this world alone / Try to open wide and see the world from each and every other side you know.”
After continuing deeper into space and hallucination, the group lands right in the middle of a John Hughes production titled “Ralphie” where the titular douchebag steals our narrator’s girl Lorelei at a high school party whilst Steely Dan is performing harmonized guitar somersaults akin to “Reelin’ in the Years” before Hall and Oates and Toto combine to create a power pop masterpiece which masks the pain of heartbreak with sweet melodies and hooky instrumental interludes.
Things turn back to the ’60s British invasion as the heartbroken singer, with a Rolling Stones-like swagger, condemns Lorelei for having a “Heart Made of Metal”. However, as the song crosses the halfway point, our timelords take off again as things take a sinister turn with Sabbath sludge riffs and screams soundtracking a production now helmed by Stephen King as the heartbreak victim plots revenge with the eerie meditation, “Lorelei’s been on my mind today / I don’t know what to do, what to say.”
The sinister tone continues as the protagonist-turned-antagonist pursues his lost love with crazed fervor through the funky “Special Moment” and the fuzzy stomp “Victory Lap: Danger Zone”. But as the latter track comes to a close, a tranquil peace is found with airy synths and meditative electric guitars, and the horror is over. “I’m falling through a new dimension every day,” the narrator dreamily sings as Post Animal’s travels back toward Earth bring them to the Dark Side of the Moon on “One Thing”. He continues, “I guess I’ll find peace in time.”
But before the epic journey can come to an end, “Dirtpicker” delivers a last surge of energy fueled by driving Deep Purple-esque hard rock. (Or is it King Gizzard?) Now finding his peace, our narrator finally finds his long-lost Lorelei, who now begs to come back to him. But in the great climax of the film, the response thunders: “Swallow those sweet words / Too late babe ’cause it’s coming on / There’s no way, there’s no chance / I won’t bend, find another puppet.” The hero returns to Earth most triumphantly and the credits roll. And in a final post-credits scene, we find our hero happily beside his new girl “Susie” in a happily ever after sequence soundtracked by the Eagles with signature harmonies from the Beach Boys.
As the trip finally concluded, (I’m starting to think it was definitely the LSD and not a magical jukebox…) Post Animal recited to perfection the tale they experienced, and we received a thrilling and cinematic piece of music that stands tall among its peers.