Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Record Label: Domino
Release Date: January 20, 2009
Animal Collective albums have always been special occasion listens for me, with the occasion being that I’d worn out all my Mike Patton and needed a new source for tribal drumming and random phrenetic screaming. Animal Collective’s tendency to structure 99% of their music on the creed of “Ridiculous for the Sake of Ridiculous” generally makes them come off as a sort of novelty act – a title which I’m sure the band would not dispute, but which puts a finite limit on how often I can listen to a given record. They can and do amuse, but they’ve got moments more than they’ve got consistency; they’ve got songs more than they’ve got albums.
Merriweather Post Pavilion is the first Animal Collective release where I’d call the entire album essential listening. The songs fit into each other cohesively like switching scenes in a dream, and there’s not a moment of anything that could be fairly labeled ‘filler’. When songs branch off into the unknown, it’s less studio wankery and more songwriting experimentation. The spaced-out segments of tracks like “Daily Routine” are positively transcendent, and there’s never a letdown from that high either.
Brian Wilson’s influence covers the album via Panda Bear, whose excellent solo album Person Pitch introduced us to his adoration of the Beach Boys. The result is a number of singalong songs whose lyrics may or may not have any logical value, but that sound great nonetheless. Lines like “No one should call you a dreamer” from “Also Frightened” really sound like they’ve got a lot of meaning behind them, even if that same song opens with “Face your money into the dark – you can’t sweat unless swung by the hen.”
Be careful when singing along that you don’t cover up the actual vocals on the album, because they’re what propel this masterpiece. The call-and-response lines are arranged so perfectly in the foot stomper “My Girls” that the listener wonders if the group would be able to pull it off as well live (HINT: they’re excellent live); “Bluish” can and will make you forget that anything negative has ever happened in your entire life; and my personal favorite, “Summertime Clothes” somehow manages to one-up its hypnotic Baroque keyboard arpeggios with even more infectious vocal harmonies.
As always with Animal Collective, there’s really nothing else out there that sounds quite like it. You can place groups like Annuals under the same general heading (and Battles too, if your heading is just the word “Weird”), but this is the only group this far out on whatever limb comes to its members’ collective mind. Merriweather Post Pavilion is an early contender in the race for 2009’s best album of the year, easily.
Bonus points for having a song called “Lion in a Coma.”
Recommended if You Like Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, Annuals’ Be He Me, Brian Wilson’s…anything
Well written review and creative and fun band. Personally though, I don't feel it is a 9/10 type album for me. Some of the songs are really catchy and I can listen to over and over and other songs I tend to skip nearly every time I listen to this album. As such, after a month or so of listening its already been relegated to an album that I never listen to all the way through (which pretty much locks it out of being an 8 or 9 / 10 for me)
My Girls, Bluish, and Also Frightened are my favorite tracks.