Review : Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Noripcord“(M)uch of this is pure hype… a social version of the TV quiz show where contestants are asked to guess not the true answer to a question, but the answer that polls have shown most people believe is true…” from “The Last President of the United States,” an essay by Greil Marcus, first published in Artforum in 1985
The currency of hype, the elephant in the bedroom of contemporary music writing, is difficult to schematize, but I would say that it roughly equates to word-of-mouth, plus the apparatuses of journalism, plus a special x-factor. Most bands associated with the h-word have x-factors that involve an aggregate of various extra-musical marginalia, like shticks, fashions, geographies, back-stories, unifying visual aesthetics… the stuff that we writers use to fatten our paragraphs and self-aggrandize our profession without having to go through the trouble of listening to anything too closely. Unless you count cryptic internet press-releases, fake names, and optical illusions (I might not blame you), Animal Collective dropped most of their serious shtick when they stopped wearing masks. Their x-factor is a rare one: they make fantastic, unique, relentlessly singular records with a regularity that suggests an enchanted acumen. You probably don’t need me to tell you that Merriweather Post Pavilion is yet another of these. So why are we so excited? When are we going to start taking this band for granted?...full text
UncutAnimal Collective's new album is named after the Frank Gehry-designed ampitheatre in Maryland where as highschool kids they saw the bands – notably the Grateful Dead - that first blew their minds. Choosing such a title (which they now share with a Jerry Garcia Band live album), might suggest that the AC are simply acknowledging that, for all their outsider art beginnings and freaky enthusiasms, their burgeoning cult now places them, after the Dead and Pavement, quite squarely in the grand tradition of American jam-bands.
“In The Flowers”, the first track on Merriweather Post Pavilion, could even be a memory of some distant “Dark Star” freak out. It starts out, with the psychfolk shimmer and swirl of last album but one Feels, as a kind of fried reverie, envying the rapturous abandon of a girl dancing in a field, “high on her own movement”. But then, as Avey Tare wistfully sings “If I could just leave my body for a night...” the track erupts into an astonishing, galloping Phillip Glass flamenco-techno reel. Eventually, when the boom of the bass and the drums subsides, the track comes back down with the early hours walk home as “the ecstasy turns to rising light...”...full text
SputnikmusicIn a lot of ways Merriweather Post Pavilion isn’t just Animal Collective’s “pop” album or best album, it is also the most interactive. The band describes it as music worthy of outdoors listening- or, more specifically, the outdoor Maryland venue the album gets it title from- and they’re right on the money.
Animal Collective’s classic back catalogue, from the frosty textures in Sung Tongs to the abrasive freak-folk in Strawberry Jam, works on a larger scale than your normal band, but the music is still meant for bumping in your trunk or under the colored lights of a basement venue.
Merriweather Post Pavilion just proves Avey Tare and Panda Bear (real names David Portner and Noah Lennox, respectively) are expert songwriters, turning in a grandstand of production and editing. They achieve their feat, perfecting a sound they’ve been honing through nine studio albums, and it explodes with the sky in mind.
As an engaging and gripping pop album from front to back, Merriweather Post Pavilion could easily sustain a club for 55 minutes with the smooth framework that so effortlessly strings together 11 potential singles....full text
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