Feb 1, 2009

Merriweather Post Pavilion-Animal Collective

First things first. It's great, of course. Animal Collective don't do anything but greatness. It's in their blood, the way they are wired. Truly seminal and influential, they are also unique. Even if you don't 'get' Animal Collective I think it would be hard to deny their singular influence, their ability to set trends. So, we arrive at this album that has had universal acclaim and much reportage. Making it hard to add much more. But I will try to give my impressions and maybe the things that make me love this band so much.

To begin with, we now have three. For the moment, Deakin has departed the scene. Then we discover that this album is missing his guitar work, relying heavily on samplers. This gives the album a more synth driven sound, there is much less drumming. Less reliance on tribal beats and sounds. But this in turn makes the album a bigger pop record. Well, pop in the AC world. That is, glorious harmonies, shimmering melodies, golden sounds. So, we start with a knockout one-two punch. "In The Flowers" lopes gently with Avey Tare serenading us before the songs detonates our collective minds half way through. The bass heavy beat pounds us into total submission. Then Panda Bear takes the reins through the sumptuous and totally glorious "My Girls". Its many great qualities have been written about ad infinitum, but deservedly so. It is five minutes of heavenly melody. Effortlessly great. As with many songs by this great band it is all about the feel. The spirit, the all encompassing sound. Lyrically, it is quite simple. There are many songs about everyday acts. In fact we have a song named "Daily Routine", which is one of my favourites. Maybe here I can best explain my love for the band. It begins with gloops and gleeps, a bit of esoteric emittances. Then we have Panda Bear driving the beautiful melody, which jumps all over the place. It has my attention all ready. Then at 2.30 the song slows and glides into a melancholy feel. A beautiful serenity covers our eyes. I truly love these AC melancholic moments, those moments where your heart meets your mind somewhere halfway up your throat. If I could have one thing from this album it would be more moments like this. More moments to make the heart skip a beat.

But, we have other great moments. "Summertime Clothes" drives with a purpose, "Bluish" is a summerly romp, whilst "Guys Eyes" inherits a sound heard on some of their earlier albums. "Taste" is more experimental, a great concoction of sounds. There are a couple of songs that don't quite work. "Also Frightened" would be one. But we have a sublime closer in the stunning "Brother Sport". A song that swallows me whole in every sitting. A romp and a half, one I need to experience live. In the canon of Animal Collective I still believe "Feels" sits on top of the pile. But this is an outstanding piece of music. A gift to all music lovers and truly a gift that keeps giving.

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