After some gentle prodding from a friend, I went and bought the new album from Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion. Named after a wonderful outdoor venue outside of Washington, DC (where I’ve seen some fantastic concerts), the album is pretty wonderful too. Starting with the video for the single “My Girls” above — which resembles what iPod commercials look like in my happiest dreams — and its trippy cover below:
The album itself is accordingly trippy, and in the best possible way. While keeping the soaring vocal harmonies — which always garner comparisons to The Beach Boys — intact, it blends the group’s more psychedelic impulses with lush electronic soundscapes and sparse, skipping beats. And when more traditional instrumentation is heard, it only shines through more beautifully, like on the stand-out track (for me) “Bluish,” where a piano line rings out from under synth waves.
Of course, the album is getting some pretty rave reviews from the internet and print music publications. Rolling Stone, in their own “let’s put the kids in their place” way, writes:
Like the Grateful Dead before them, the psychedelic heads of Animal Collective are evolving from raging sonic hallucinations into gentler, more melodic trips. The ninth disc from this Brooklyn/Baltimore crew tries balancing shameless beauty with ecstatic weirdness, and when they nail it, it’s breathtaking.
While Pitchfork Media has given the album a shocking 9.6 (out of ten) — this from a website known for their snootyness and impossibly high standards — calling it “…a new kind of electronic pop– one which is machine-generated and revels in technology but is also deeply human, never drawing too much attention to its digital nature.”
And the music blogs (especially AC super-fan GorillaVsBear) have been lighting up with praise for the album and info about the band’s recent tour. A friend even told me that he saw one website call MPP the best album of the decade — not even followed by a “…Thus Far” — including whatever music is put out the rest of this year too.
The thing is, MPP may actually be that good (though I don’t have the memory to drudge up other phenomenal albums from the last nine years). Their first new full album since 2007’s Strawberry Jam (leaving out the fantastic Water Curses EP), it’s Animal Collective’s most consistent album that I’ve heard, and my favorite by far — even after listening it for just a few days.
I first heard Animal Collective through Matt, who gave me a copy of the album Feels, which I didn’t like at first. Too weird. But eventually I regained my senses and good taste and embraced the weirdness as the good thing it is. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
Animal Collective – Brother Sport (Live on NPR) (Buy Merriweather Post Pavilion)
Grateful Dead – Jackstraw (Live at Cornell, 1969)
Animal Collective – Street Flash (Buy Water Curses EP)
Grateful Dead – Brown-Eyed Women (Live at Cornell, 1969) (Buy GD music)
Animal Collective – Turn Into Something (Buy Feels)
posted by Adam