Of Montreal's debut album, Cherry Peel, appeared in mid-1997, followed that autumn by an EP entitled The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit's Flower. From the start, the band buoyed its bright, flamboyant indie pop sound with elements of psychedelia and vaudeville; Of Montreal's earliest records also exhibited a lo-fi sound that bordered on twee pop, although the band steadily shed those influences throughout the early 2000s. After Helium left the group in 1998 to focus on Elf Power full-time, Almstead assumed bass duties, while keyboardist Dottie Alexander and drummer Jamie Huggins both joined the lineup. Nevertheless, the band's second album, 1998's The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy, was recorded primarily as a Barnes solo project.
Multi-instrumentalist A.C. Forrester signed on for 1999's sublime The Gay Parade, while the retrospective album Horse & Elephant Eatery followed in the spring of 2000. The group continued with the release of Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse in April 2001 and Aldhils Arboretum in September of 2002, both of which were issued by the Georgia-based label Kindercore Records. With the subsequent folding of Kindercore, the departures of multi-instrumentalist Andy Gonzales and Almstead, and Barnes' marriage, 2003 proved to be an up and down year for the group. Barnes' wife, Nina, joined Of Montreal's lineup as the group signed to Polyvinyl Records and delivered one of their most celebrated records, Satanic Panic in the Attic, in early 2004.
The following year found Barnes exploring a bouncier, synth-driven avenue with the release of Sunlandic Twins, but things began to get complicated in his personal life at the same time. He and his wife moved to Norway for the birth of their baby. Deprived of familiar touchstones, Barnes fell into a deep depression and, upon returning to the States, continued to travel progressively downhill. He and his wife separated for a time, and she returned to her family in Norway with their new daughter. Through the emotional turmoil, Barnes concocted what was to be his darkest, most personal, and ambitious album yet -- Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? -- in 2007. Arriving one year later, Skeletal Lamping furthered that ambitious sound by emphasizing Barnes' outrageous alter ego, "Georgie Fruit," whose influence pushed the album toward funk and prog territory. An Eluardian Instance (Jon Brion Remix EP) followed in early 2009, featuring five remixed tracks from the previous album. Of Montreal's tenth studio release, False Priest, arrived the following year and featured cameos from fellow genre-hoppers Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles. Songs written for that album but not used saw the light of day in April of 2011 with the release of thecontrollersphere EP. The following year Barnes revisited the raw emotion of Hissing Fauna with the album Paralytic Stalks, exploring themes of self-loathing, revenge, and romantic turmoil to create Of Montreal's most personal offering yet. At the end of 2012, the band issued the Daughter of Cloud compilation, a collection of unreleased b-sides and outtakes from 2008-2011.