Sunday, February 8, 2009

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

I still haven't listened to any pre-Strawberry Jam Collective to know what they really sounded like, but they seem here to have fully committed to their transition from experimental rock to some sort of psychedelic electro-pop madness, without a single guitar to be heard. It can be a bit bizarre, but starting from the explosion of noise halfway through the opening track "In the Flowers", it's easy to see that music doesn't have to be familiar to be extremely infectious and fun to listen to. I'm still not very good at telling Avey Tare and Panda Bear apart, besides the fact that Avey is the one singing when the singing's crazy. The two seem to have a tighter interplay here than they did on the last album, and overall it's a more consistently enjoyable and focused effort. More of the songs feel like fully-formed pop with actual structures, even if the different elements seem unusual. The single "My Girls" is the perfect example of this, and pretty frighteningly catchy.

Not every song is like that, with some being more firmly in the band's esoteric oeuvre, although you can pretty much expect electronic twiddling and driving bass on most of them. "Also Frightened" is as close as the album gets to boring, although there are enough interesting touches to keep your attention. "Summertime Clothes" is poppy fun and a good distillation of the essence of what they seem to be going for. "Daily Routine" reminds me the most of their last album, with dissonant beeps providing the core instrumentation, echoing vocals, and the drawn out, starkly unique second half. "Bluish" might be the closest I've seen them come to a love song, although it kind of has their sort of twist on it. "Guys Eyes" does an interesting thing with the vocals that I'm not sure totally works, but it's worth hearing. "No More Runnin" is another slower track, and a solid lead in to "Brother Sport", the final song and of the catchier ones. It's not without some off-putting bits, but the vocals and frequent explosions of musical happiness cap off a very good album quite nicely. I'm sure it's not done growing on me yet, and is a great way to start off a new year musically.

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