Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
( Domino 2009 )
Remember when you were a little kid, and everything was huge and filled with wonder? Grown ups did things that made absolutely no sense to you even though it appeared they knew exactly what they were doing. Day to day existence felt like a fantasy and you thought you’d never get old.
Animal Collective evoke all of those clichéd childhood memories in a manner that’s totally morning fresh and new. Even the crash and clatter of their early recordings sound familiar but unlike anything put to tape before. These boys totally deserve their crowns as experimental pop kings.
Music nerds everywhere have salivated over the release of Merriweather Post Pavillion for 12 months now, and in my humble opinion the hype was worthy and the relentless 10/10 reviews have been on the money.
Their last album, the plastique fantastique Strawberry Jam threw guitars and dreamy sound scapes to the wind, giving us something much more upbeat and danceable. They continue that vibe on Merriweather but this time the songs are more melodic and ear friendly; easier to understand. Which doesn’t mean this is conventional music, far from it.
On Also Frightened the rhythm has no snare drum, which gives the ringing keyboards a somewhat seasick feel. Guys Eyes opens with a jerky piano and samples of Avey Tare singing about ‘doing exactly what his body wants to’, before segueing into a bass-heavy bridge decorated in pitch shifted electronics. Just when you think the song is going to take off, it slips back into its original riff and then closes with gentle flute refrain. Meanwhile the opening bars of Taste sounds like a remix of The Lion King soundtrack, played in the chill out room of a basement rave.
Some songs drift into nothing, while others burst into Tropicana dance-offs. Layers and layers of harmonised vocals come off sounding like the Beach Boys in a mirror maze. And keyboard flourishes twinkle in far reaches of the mix. These unexpected turns have always been the beauty of Animal Collective’s sound, and here on their ninth studio album they’ve mastered the art of neatly piecing these disparate ideas together.
It’s not easy making music that’s predominately electronic sound warm, inviting and human. Merriweather Post Pavillion has just enough whimsy and magic about it to be uplifting without dripping cheese.