Animal Collective—Merriweather Post Pavillion

Its been a very long time since any record has received the kind of attention that Merriweather Post Pavillion has, so naturally I was a bit sceptical upon first listen. This especially after my experiences with ACs previous records, which despite their immense creativity and song construction, never fully registered with me. Needless to say, it was to my surprise how enjoyable I found the record.

Animal Collective kinda looks like their music
Animal Collective kinda looks like their music

First up is the sublime and noisy In the Flowers, which kicks off the record on an ominous and mellow note, setting the mood for the rest of the album, but not quite preparing you for the sonic madness which ensues. This leads into the stunning second track, My Girls — dancy and alien yet completely enjoyable. Things only get better as the album progresses with the warm and absorbing Summertime Clothes, one of the defining tracks on the album. On Bluish, Panda Bears voice is at its most haunting and the music is at its most psychedelically enveloping. This then leads into Guys Eyes, the closest resemblance you may find to a standard pop song before dissolving into an eclectic and rhythmic freak-out.

Taste is one of the lower tempo tracks on the record and serves as a sort of breather. While its one of the records weaker tracks, it works perfectly in context — fitting the theme of Merriweather Post Pavillion. Lion in a Coma begins with what sounds like the soundtrack for a trip to the Serengeti or in some distant desert in Australia and the bands vocal harmonies are at their peak at this point. The penultimate song, No More Runnin, comes as something as a surprise given the wild and eclectic electronic synthesizers prevailing throughout the record. The soft repeating piano and soaring vocal harmonies are soothing and serve as a perfect lead into the epic closer, Brothersport, quite possibly the best album closer since Street Spirit. The song is explosive — its as if the band took everything that was great about this record and combined into one euphoric song.

The depth of Mer r iweather Post Pavillion is breathtaking — vast and completely unpredictable, yet everything seems to make sense. Its fascinating to decipher the rhythms and melodies out of seemingly random noises. This aspect of the record has led to comparisons to Pet Sounds.

While Animal Collective or Panda Bears projects arent always easy to swallow, this record showcases everything the band is. The strangeness, endless layering of sounds, explosiveness, and bizarre catchy hooks all sound like what Animal Collective fans and non-fans have heard before, not to mention their newly found popsensibilities.

Merriweather Post Pavillion feels like something indie pop has been leading up to for some time now, stripped of all pretentiousness and banality, and delivered with the kind of effortlessness and realization that Daydream Nation and Loveless did with Alt-Rock some twenty years ago. This may be Animal Collectives defining record, however if I have learned anything from the bands history, you never know what to expect next.

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