Euphoric and economical, Animal Collective’s eighth studio album is the perfect entrance point for casual music-lovers that may be put off by terms like “psych folk” or “noise rock.” Shedding surprise for sheer musicality, Merriweather Post Pavilion finds one of the most imaginative (and prolific) modern musical groups at top form, expanding upon their spasmodic genre-bending style while reigning each track in before it explodes into too much fuzz, fuss or furry.
The tracks, for the most part side-step classic rock song structure in favor of the slow build repetition of body-oriented dance music (like rave records). Each song swings and sprints and layers upon itself, with numerous choruses swelling into canons and vocal harmonies that topple on top of one another. The album plays like one long, all-inclusive spiritual uprising, similar in consistency and emotional upheaval to Sigur Rós’ Ágætis byrjun and what made that album such a cornerstone for lonely and hopeful college students (and lonely and hopeful everyone else’s as well) in 1999.
“In the Flowers” begins with a ghastly inhalation, sending off cosmic ephemera into empty space until a voice returns like a long forgotten echo. Insect percussionists and hand claps burble and fade until a faint whisper rises into the misty track: “If I could just leave my body for the night.” And with this, the album locks into a thumping, time-lapse blastoff of synthesized cricket chirps and heartbeat kick drums. “Also Frightened” is full of off-balance electric bass wallop and see-saw keyboards. “Taste” builds upon a sampled 4-4 drum kit stomp with arpeggio synths and Smack-A-Mole layered vocal bits and pieces. “My Girls” and “Summertime Clothes” lock into endlessly listenable grooves and spirals them to the brink of chaos, playing on the giddy psychedelic fizzle of numerous electronic music-making devices chortling about and allowed to create noise without restraint.
Favorite Track: “Kiss My Name”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.