Monday, February 16, 2009

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

For me, Animal Collective has always precariously toed the line between fascinating and obnoxious.  The same could certainly be said of most boundary-pushing artists, but there's always been something particularly eclectic about the group's affinity for yelps, tribal rhythms, and acoustic/electronic pairings.  You'd be hard pressed to find a band from our generation who has simultaneously garnered as much hyperbolic praise and utter confusion.

Personally, I have pretty mixed opinions on the band's output.  Sung Tongs (2004) is about 50/50 un-/bearable, Feels (2005) is mostly excellent ("Banshee Beat" is one of my most played tracks, all time), Panda Bear's Person Pitch (2007) is one of the most exciting albums of the decade, and Strawberry Jam (2007) was overrated beyond belief.

Which brings us to Merriweather Post Pavilion, released (count 'em) six days into 2009 to overwhelming cries of "Album of the Year!"  Uncut's Stephen Trouss√© wrote, "[Merriweather Post Pavilion] feels like one of the landmark American albums of the century so far," and even your-parents'-favorite-freakin' ABC News covered its release.

I'm not going to write much about this record, because there's already an absurd amount about it out there (God, alliteration rules).  I'd suggest this blog post in particular, which unintentionally mimics the space between fascinating and obnoxious that I already claimed Animal Collective occupy.

I've got two main things to say, and I'm going to present them numerically so as to appease Dave's penchant for organization:

(1) Animal Collective isn't particularly good at making consistent albums, but they are titans of the monstrous jam.  Just as Strawberry Jam had "For Reverend Green" and "Fireworks" hidden amongst a mostly unsatisfying listening experience, Merriweather Post Pavilion has its ups and downs.  I must, however, make it clear that the ups on this record are so ridiculously far up as to be downright astounding.  Attach as much hyperbole to "My Girls," "Brother Sport," and jam-of-the-year "Summertime Clothes" as you can possibly muster.  They are so mindbogglingly fantastic that I'm going to ask you to stop your reading, pause whatever you're currently listening to, and play these songs as loud as you possibly can, right now:

"My Girls" video here.

Listen to "Brother Sport" here.

Listen to "Summertime Clothes" now:

Thank you.

That said, there are some pretty boring sections (see: "Lion in a Coma" --> "No More Runnin") that make me hesitant to accept any review that touts this record as brilliant.  That said, this album is mostly very good, and presently only a notch below Feels for me.  I'd give it a B+, an 8.3, four stars, a crocodile, or something else totally nebulous.

(2) This album is virtually impossible to emotionally connect with.  Taylor Parkes gets it: "Dropping into this record can feel like walking into someone else's dream, all lit up with a significance that somehow fails to connect."

But y'know what?  I've never listened to Animal Collective with the intent to feel anything besides awe.  So I'll just keep on blasting this record and singing "I want to walk around with you" everywhere I go.


Dave said...


Ah, what a refreshing way to structure an album review; departing from the stream-of-consciousness blabbering of those at Pitchfork...

Couldn't agree more that Strawberry Jam was unimpressive. Can't wait to sink my teeth into this. As always, thanks for your intelligent and eloquent prologue..

Anonymous said...

how about you love everything they've ever done? just try it, you'll like it!