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Animal Collective - Centipede Hz Album Cover

Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

Reviewed by
8.2
Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
Record Label: Domino
Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
At what point does art become self-indulgent? At what point does art become impossible to understand? Who knows the answers to either of these questions but after a few listens to Animal Collective's Centipede Hz, those two questions seem all the more relevant

Album opener "Moonjock," is a riveting cut of bacchanalian brouhaha. Rhythms duck, curve, cascade and swoop and there are definite hints of a chorus, but in the final minute things take a turn for the weird and the entire effort feels lost and misplaced.

And yet the weirdness is just beginning.

"Today's Supernatural," is hallucinatory, psychotropic, berserk and just down right bananas. The song settles into some sense of melody and a chorus even appears at the two-minute mark. Additionally it hovers near the terrain of being single-worthy and is arguably one of the most commercial efforts on the LP. But most of it feels decidedly bonkers. "Rosie Oh," is Centipede's most melodic and harmonic but there's far too much going on to make it work. It is also here that one can definitely say, Animal Collective has no concept of minimalism or subtlety. That very simple fact makes listening to Centipede Hz frustrating as hell.

Arguably the best cut on the album is fourth track "Applesauce," a direct and simple effort that is a veritable home run. It is here that Avey Tare's vocals take center stage and the entire song is anything but overbearing. Plain and simple, the song just works. Super catchy, awe-inspiring and a perfect shot at a first single, "Applesauce," is a damn fine song.

After the tribal mess of the chaotic and cluttered "Wide-Eyed," in which the quartet performs an over-the-top aural assault, the crisp "Father Time," steps forward and makes its case as the album's second best (and on some listens, the best) song. While it moves in much the same step as "Applesauce," "Father Time," is smooth, cohesive and the sound of a band completely jelling together. Whereas many of the cuts sound like spare parts being strewn together, "Father Time," sounds fluid.

Centipede Hz's second half opens with "New Town Burnout," a joyful six-minute orchestration that feels tacked-on and tiring. The only true head turner on the second half is "Monkey Riches," a showy and attention-grabbing effort that feels like a band connecting on a level few others are. When Tare sings, "I wanna knock you down," it sounds deeply felt and sincere. And in a band with as many gimmicks as this, authenticity is a rare thing to find. This in and of itself makes "Monkey Riches," worth treasuring. While Tare's vocals are very average, at least the band is trying for something important here. That they pull it off is only a further notch on the band's proverbial belt.

Alas though, that is the last real winning effort on Centipede Hz. "Mercury Man," is frenetic and borderline schizophrenic and skitters along in a manner that is truly scatterbrain. The vocals are strong and there's a hint of a commercial chorus and while this is certainly catchy stuff, at the same time it is concussive and thick with attitude. At some points, one wishes the attitude could settle down just a bit. Penultimate cut "Pulleys," may be one of the best songs on the album but at this point, the entire experience is wearing, haggard and fatigue-inducing. By the time album closer "Amanita," rolls around, one has trouble mustering up the courage to listen onward.

When the band puts their best foot forward ("Monkey Riches," "Father Time," "Applesauce," "Mercury Man," and "Pulleys,") they sound like an outfit deserving of all the hype and praise bestowed upon them. But on the self-indulgent and over-the-top efforts ("Amanita," "New Town Burnout," "Wide-Eyed," "Rosie Oh," and "Today's Supernatural") they sound distant, alienating and impossible to relate to. That last point is what makes Centipede Hz so darn frustrating.

Once upon a time they were genius wunderkinds who tapped into something truly revelatory and released a brilliant album. A few years removed from that, they sound ego-driven, drug-induced and aimless.

Oh what a few years can do.

Recommended If You Like Yeasayer, Dan Deacon, F-cked Up, Steve Aoki


Listen to the album http://radio.myanimalhome.net/
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 69
10:20 PM on 08/28/12
#2
muffinman777
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"Today's Supernatural" sounds like a rapist-clown version of the Beach Boys. They are just being weird for the sake of weird, which is just getting old. they are amazing (Merriweather, Fall Be Kind, some of Strawberry Jam). Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Animal Collective as much as the next person, but this is hardly listenable.
03:58 AM on 08/29/12
#3
oddwithoutend
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Just want to point out that 'Centipede' is not a song on the album (third last paragraph).
04:40 AM on 08/29/12
#4
Gregory Robson
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Just want to point out that 'Centipede' is not a song on the album (third last paragraph).
Yeah, that's just a stupid error on my part. Thank you for copy-editing. Much appreciated.
04:40 AM on 08/29/12
#5
Gregory Robson
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"Today's Supernatural" sounds like a rapist-clown version of the Beach Boys. They are just being weird for the sake of weird, which is just getting old. they are amazing (Merriweather, Fall Be Kind, some of Strawberry Jam). Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Animal Collective as much as the next person, but this is hardly listenable.
I think you said it best. Could not agree more.
05:29 AM on 08/29/12
#6
Jeff_Ryan
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Quote:
And in a band with as many gimmicks as this, authenticity is a rare thing to find.

Animal Collective are so far from a gimmick. I really don't understand this.
05:43 AM on 08/29/12
#7
Gregory Robson
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Animal Collective are so far from a gimmick. I really don't understand this.
Agree to disagree. I used to love this band, after this album I can't stand them. So don't expect any lofty grandiose statements from me.
06:08 AM on 08/29/12
#8
VanMastaIteHab
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I liked the album as weird background noise. But it's hard to get much more out of it than that.
06:23 AM on 08/29/12
#9
SpyKi
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Agree to disagree. I used to love this band, after this album I can't stand them. So don't expect any lofty grandiose statements from me.
You can't stand them but gave it 82%?
06:28 AM on 08/29/12
Gregory Robson
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You can't stand them but gave it 82%?
Yep. I can put bias aside. That's what good critics do.
06:29 AM on 08/29/12
bunneh.
make moves, son
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Yep. I can put bias aside. That's what good critics do.
And that's why they pay you the $$$$$. Nice review!
06:40 AM on 08/29/12
QuietThings430
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Animal Collective are so far from a gimmick. I really don't understand this.
Musical experimentation and creativity is such a gimmick you guys.
06:45 AM on 08/29/12
Gregory Robson
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Musical experimentation and creativity is such a gimmick you guys.
There's experimentation and then there's being heavy-handed. But we can agree to disagree. No worries there.
06:47 AM on 08/29/12
Jeff_Ryan
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Musical experimentation and creativity is such a gimmick you guys.
Honestly the only thing about them that I would say you could argue was a gimmick would be the use of stage names. Other than that, any "gimmick" they've done over the past few years has really been Danny Perez, not AnCo.

I don't know. I'm not trying to be a dick and call out the reviewer or anything, but I don't understand a review that lists half of the tracks as highlights and "deserving of all the hype", gives the album a score above 80%, and then says that he can't stand the band.

07:00 AM on 08/29/12
InaGreendase
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Yep. I can put bias aside. That's what good critics do.
That still doesn't make sense. Are you saying that you recognize this album as inherently "good" but find it completely unlistenable all the same?

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