I’ve had Animal Collective‘s ninth album Merriweather Post Pavilion in my possession for the last 48 hours for reviewing purposes. It’s easy to see why videos like this appear. AC are one of the most original, singular band entities around, a musical law onto themselves and with MPP they’ve broadened their musical palette considerably.
Anyone who has witnessed their live shows over the past eighteen months won’t be surprised as they have played much of this material before. What is truly spectacular is how far this band has come. Their fanbase is rabidly in love with their material but ask them what their favourite album is and you’ll nearly always get a different answer. Some prepare the early freak-folk of Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, some prefer the psychedelic Feels or the bizarre but beautiful Sung Tongs. With each album, the band have transformed their sound (with the exception of Strawberry Jam, which didn’t feel as much as a chapter as their last few releases). With MPP though, there’s a sense that this is the album to break them beyond their already captive community.
The album is full of joy and melody. Like spilling over the top with the stuff. The opening track ‘In The Flowers’ starts with a dark growling noise and suddenly lifts into a chasm of lifting and falling chords (slightly reminiscent of Plaid’s ‘Eyen’ ) before taking off in a carousel of noise. It don’t wish to be hyperbolic, but it sounds like its coming from a magical place.
The album is a closer relative to Panda Bear’s Person Pitch than any other AC album and his harmonious influence is all over it. ‘My Girls’ is an obvious Panda Bear-lead highlight, an invested paean to his daughter and his wife. It’s a lovely sustained celebration.There is such a tight focus on the songwriting and sounds here than before like on the bass-frequency glide of ‘Also Frightened’ and the elegant ‘Summertime Clothes’ which is both distinctly Animal Collective in tone yet also a owes a lot to the winsome harmonies of the Beach Boys (a comparison you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the coming months). ‘Daily Routine’ has been a live favourite for a while and its distinctive synth backdrop is a highlight as is the tropical playfulness of ‘Taste’.
The last two tracks are particularly strong: the penultimate ‘No More Running’ is a twinkling downtempo daydream before a denouement is reached in the epic harmonious / techno-infused brilliance of ‘Brother Sport’ with six minutes of immediate celebratory advice to Noah’s brother.
Merriweather Post Pavilion is the latest exciting plateau that Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist (Deakin is absent) have reached and is justification of the fawning this band have been receiving for years. A wholly adventurous statement for early 2009. I think you’ll love it.
(And no, I’m not leaking it you fools)