Animal Collective | Merriweather Post Pavilion
Most Likely To: please long time fans and even suck in a few naysayers.
If you already own Animal Collective’s entire back catalog and rushed out to pick up Merriweather Post Pavilion before President Obama was even sworn in, then this review really isn’t for you. It’s for the rest of us. Despite the album’s near universal acceptance by critics and the band’s mob of obsessive fans, I’m willing to bet my glass eye that I’m not the only one who has yet to embrace them. Led by the desire to be open-minded and encouraged by the amount of positive buzz that preceded the release, I decided to give them another chance.
There wasn’t a lack of material to evaluate on Merriweather Post Pavilion. Each song’s multiple layers whorl and hiccup through the speakers. Ultimately, the record is more about evoking a mood than conveying a specific message. Most songs are marked by multiple musical lines that are sometimes – perhaps intentionally – at cross-purposes (“In the Flowers,” “Taste”).
In the vein of Strawberry Jam’s “Peacebone,” or the toe tapping whir of “Grass” from Feels, Merriweather Post Pavilion is more lucid, and poppier, than its predecessors. These touches are the album’s saving grace. There are also Panda Bear-style nods to Brian Wilson (“Bluish,” “No More Runnin’”). “Daily Routine” boasts an impressive vocal mix, full of harmonic echoes buoyed by intense synths. “My Girls” stands out with its hooky vocal line and hand claps.
I can’t shake the sense that Merriweather Post Pavilion is just white guy world music whose rhythm track was replaced with rim shots and synthetic bird noises. (Case in point: the mbira on “Lion in a Coma.”) And though I’m sure it’s possible to enjoy Animal Collective while sober and freshly showered, it’s not easy. While my time spent with Merriweather Post Pavilion wasn’t torturous or wasted, it wasn’t enough to get me to join the tribe.