The New Classics

January 11, 2009

Album Review: Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion

Filed under: Album Review, Indie Rock — Tags: , — Greg @ 10:17 am


Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

There is a real sense of space that you get in listening to an Animal Collective record. Maybe it’s the echoes or the airy sound effects, but they always have me floating in another world listening to them, not unlike a Pink Floyd album. I’ve been far from an Animal Collective enthusiast in the past, however, finding about half their material as unlistenable noise, aside from a few highlights per album. Merriweather Post Pavillion is the first AC album that I can listen to front to back and fully enjoy. Now, maybe this is because my ear for music has matured, or perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by so many blogs telling me how great they are that I have reluctantly begun to agree. Or maybe the band has simply become more accessible. All of that is besides the point, though, because here we have a really great album that takes the listener on several different journeys.

The opening track ‘In the Flowers’ begins like a classic film would, slowly and softly, as if the opening credits were rolling to begin the show. The vibe we get on the first half of this song could almost be considered haunting, with an eerie piano, and wind and water drop sound effects behind singer Avey Tare. But by the time Tare finishes singing the lyric “If I could just leave my body for a night“, the track opens up into a fun house of different sounds like a box of fireworks going off at once. After about 90 seconds, the song returns to its original slow haunt sound, but that 90 seconds was like a glimpse into what we will be experiencing for the rest of the album.

My favorite song on the album is ‘My Girls’, which begins with a dream-like synth loop that continues for the entire song, as the different sounds and instruments begin to build up. The vocals kick in (There isn’t much I feel I need / a solid soul, and the blood I bleed) , followed shortly after by some percussion and a bumpy bass drum, and plenty of awesome “whooo!”‘s. At the risk of being too corny, the best way I can describe the feel of this song is magical. If you were going to introduce someone to Animal Collective, ‘My Girls’ would be a great starting point, before having them delve into the weirder, deeper arrangements of the group.

The rest of Merriweather is just as fun and exciting as the two opening songs. ‘Lion in a Coma’ has a bouncy, frantic sound, while ‘No More Runnin’ is a more delicate song that probably best displays the group’s vocal talents. ‘Summertime Clothes’ is a happy-in-love type of song, and album closer ‘Brother Sport’ sounds like a Vampire Weekend song with all of it’s pieces mixed up. There are so many different sounds on this LP that there literally is something for everyone.

Animal Collective have definitely become a bit more accessible to the public, in the sense that all of these songs are actually coherent, unlike on some past releases. This is the closest to “pop” that this experimental band is going to get, while still retaining a lot of the strangeness that makes them unique. But there are no songs that are odd for the sake of being odd, and I’m surprised to see all of the high ratings for this album from a handful of elitist publications, because of that fact. But I suppose there is no denying a great record, which is what Merriweather Post Pavillion is. There is not a single bad song here, and they really do deserve all of their praise on this outing.

Album: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Artist: Animal Collective
Label: Domino Records
Highlights: ‘My Girls’, ‘Summertime Clothes’, ‘Bluish’, ‘No More Runnin’, ‘Brother Sport’
Rating: 8.5


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