animal collective: merriweather post pavilion

animal_collectiveMany were introduced to Animal Collective through a couple of features on NPR radio this past winter, and the buzz that has built up around their latest album Merriweather Post Pavillion has been great to experience. Some are calling it the album of the century or at the very least, album of the year. What’s all the fuss about? On a basic level, the band makes music that is just strikingly unusual. Uncompromising. Hearing them, you get the strong impression that they inhabit a musical world entirely their own, and nobody is ever going to tell them what to do. You could get all philosophical and say they’re doing with music what directors like Tarantino, Lynch, Nolan and Gilliam do on film, but perhaps it’s more fun just to open up your ears to AC’s sonic carnival. Taking stage names Avey Tare, The Geologist, Panda Bear and Deakin, Animal Collective packed in more ideas, styles and directions over the course of eight albums than most bands ever manage in their lifetimes. Merriweather Post Pavillion is their ninth and it is far more electronic  than its predecessors. Loops and samples abound, punctuated by beats from an enormous palate of percussive sounds, often with odd or unfamiliar timing. Keyboards sparkle and reverberate, pushing you up to breathtaking heights, especially on the two openers, “In The Flowers” and “My Girls”. The jaunty “Summertime Clothes” recalls a romantic and joyful humid summer evening, fun and inviting even with the shirt permanently stuck to your back. “Brother Sport” with its frenetic energy  may leave you tapping you toes and grinning wildly to a lively mariachi-inspired rhythm and melody. The density of styles and sounds on this album may leave you overwhelmed. But in a good way. A very good way. Once you’ve assimilated it you can work your way back chronologically, starting with the equally amazing Strawberry Jam. 5/5

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