Monday, January 5, 2009

Animal Collective- Merriwether Post Pavilion

Rating: 9.5
Released: Jan. 6 (vinyl), Jan. 20 (cd)

Question: How do you know when a band has the indie world's ear?
Answer: When the months leading up to an album release are filled with cloak and dagger grabs to get an early copy.
Somebody even hacked into a band member's e-mail and sent fraudulent messages pleading for an Internet leak.
People want this album. They won't be disappointed.
Merriwether Post Pavilion is electrifying.
Animal Collective is one of a handful of bands that gets more beloved every time its members innovate.
Like Wolf Parade, there is more than one savant in this band (see Panda Bear and Avey Tare). The wild thing is these guys actually collaborate.
With 2005's Feels, AC sounded like a Pet Sounds-revival with acoustic guitars. By 2007, the band was making Strawberry Jam: the weirdest pop you've ever heard, which, depending on your ears, might have sounded like the most thrilling pop you've ever heard.
This record should convince everybody that Animal Collective, once dismissed as "freak-folkers" by people who write such things, is one of the best bands in the land.
Merriwether Post Pavilion might not be a superficial grab for record sales, but the Beach Boys vocal acrobatics and MGMT electronics could sell a few.
Less club-friendly than MGMT, Animal Collective washes every second of the tape with sublime noise. If these guys were painters, they'd be impressionists.
Panda Bear takes the lead on this album (good news if you heard his 2007 solo masterpiece Person Pitch), but AC blends its sound into a big melodic soup.
It's hard to pick out one ingredient in a great soup. Same thing applies here. The lyrics have never mattered with this band. Just the sound.
"In the Flowers" is a slow-building stunner. "If I could just leave my body for a night," Avey Tare sings just before the bottom falls out, climaxing in a pulsing keyboard coda.
Other tracks like "Also Frightened" and "Daily Routine" cover the tape in spacey harmonies, tribal hoots and warm vocals like Dennis Wilson's best solo output.
The lyrics have never mattered with this band. Just the sound, and Panda's voice has always bore an uncanny resemblance to Dennis' brilliant bro Brian. The comparisons won't stop here.
The most accessible tracks here, "My Girls" and "Summertime Clothes," might be the real stunners.
Always oddly rhythmic, these are dance tunes disguised as indie rock. Look out MGMT.
There's little stopping AC if it's capable of Merriwether Post Pavilion. This is an astoundingly good record. We're in for a good year if this sets the tone.

- SoR

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