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Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 1 / 3 / 2009

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Label: Domino Records
Format: CD


Vibrant eighth album from Baltimore-based avant-garde act Animal Collective, upon which while they have not compromised their experimental sound proves to be their most accessible and commercial release to date

There is no band that can make me as excited by the music they are making as Animal Collective. Since first hearing their single ‘Grass’ back in 2005, I have been completely hooked by the way they walk the line between an over-crowded mess of sound and fantastic, sing-a-long harmonies with rhythms you can’t help but nod along to. 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' is Animal Collective’s eighth album, if you don’t include their live release, 'Hollinndagain'. Deakin doesn’t feature on this record, taking time out to focus on other things. This leaves the trio of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist, harking back to the days of albums 'Danse Manatee' and 'Campfire Songs', back in 2001 and 2003, respectively. In many ways, the earlier Animal Collective sound, in particular 'Avey Tare' and Panda Bear’s 'Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished', has come back to the fore on this new record. Obviously, the production values are much better, and the group have improved as songwriters, musicians and vocalists (the vocal harmonies on 'Merriweather...' are nothing short of brilliant). Tracks like ‘Bluish’, ‘Also Frightened’ and ‘Daily Routine’ certainly have echoes of songs like ‘Chocolate Girl’ and ‘Alvin Row’ from the Collective’s first release. Without doubt, this is Animal Collective’s most accessible and commercial release to date. That’s not to say that they have compromised their sound in any way, but that they have harnessed their natural talent for catchy melodic hooks and danceable beats and used them to their full potential. There have always been great songs on Animal Collective records, which just cruise underneath the position of potential pop hit (I’m thinking of tracks like Feels’ ‘Grass’ and ‘The Purple Bottle’, ‘Who Could Win a Rabbit?’ from 'Sung Tongs' or ‘Fireworks’ from the last album, Peacebone), but on 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' it seems as if every song has the potential to be a hit. In particular, the blissfully buoyant ‘Summertime Clothes’, ‘Bluish’ and, first single, ‘My Girls’ seem like they could fit snugly into the current taste for avant garde electro-pop, currently led by MGMT (although I would point out that Animal Collective are a lot more interesting and exciting a band. Well, in my opinion anyway). While Animal Collective have been quite successful since 'Sung Tongs' was released in 2004, the experimental nature of their music has no doubt driven away some potential fans; there is a tendency for songs to break into repetitive chanting and/or electronic burblings which can last for a couple of minutes, for example, which can be quite trying at times. On this album, however, these elements seem to have been reduced. ‘Daily Routine’ and ‘Guys Eyes’ move more in that direction at times, but it is nowhere near as difficult a listening experience as, say, ‘The Bees’ from 'Feels' or ‘Visiting Friends’ on 'Sung Tongs', and they quickly swing back into more palatable pop-ness. If you have any sort of self-respect for yourself, you’ll go out and buy this album immediately. Fans of Animal Collective’s past output will hopefully agree with me when I say that 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' matches up to the band’s current career highlight, the wonderful Feels, and maybe even surpasses it. This is 55 minutes of wonderful, exciting, vibrant, enjoyable music, and it leaves everything currently sludging around in the charts seem distinctly flat. Need I say more ?

Track Listing:-
1 In The Flowers
2 My Girls
3 Also Frightened
4 Summertime Clothes
5 Daily Routine
6 Bluish
7 Guys Eyes
8 Taste
9 Lion In A Coma
10 No More Runnin
11 Brother Sport

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live reviews

Forum, London, 24/3/2009
At a keenly anticipated, strikingly visual show at the Forum in London, Mark Rowland watches pioneering electro act Animal Collective play a set which completely splits its audience
Bronson Theatre Centre, Ottawa, 8/9/2007
Coronet Club, London, 11/7/2007
Scala, London, 25/10/2005


Profile (2005)
Animal Collective - Profile
With their new album 'Feels' just out, Dominic Simpson profiles the career of idiosyncratic and experimental New York-based American psychedelia act the Animal Collective

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