Animal Collective – ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’

December 12, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide, #61, December 2008/January 2009.

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Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion
(Domino/EMI)
****

The line between music and noise can be a tenuous one. A mere texture or rhythmic inclination can push the scales one way or the other, and the results can be terminal. Nevertheless, it’s from this same precarious sonic ambit that we find the most exciting, progressive and exploratory music – music that not only affects and inspires, but stretches and re-imagines the very language from which it came. The sound-craft of indie pop’s favourite avant-guardists Animal Collective fits this schema, and the group’s ninth oeuvre, Merriweather Post Pavilion, proves yet another wonderfully deconstructive gesture. The Across 11 sketches, the Baltimore-raised quartet makes a beautiful mess of any number of genres and inflections. Summery Beach Boys harmonies, warped tropicalia, whispers of spectral ambience, industrialised textures and tangled, glittering electronics flutter and pulse, sometimes all at once. It’s intoxicating. Where last year’s Strawberry Jam seesawed between moments of noisiness and lucidity, this hour-long collection has a more consistently busy dynamic – the vocals are subsumed deeper in the mix and a trail of mid and high-range buzzes, clicks and textures weave their way throughout. The crowded, sun-drenched harmonies of My Girls and the drunken rhythmic stumble of Taste are two of the album’s chief joys. Guys Eyes and Daily Routine, meanwhile, offer rare flashes of clarity.  There are missteps, but there always will be when you throw caution to the wind. For the majority, Merriweather Post Pavilion proves another thrilling chapter in Animal Collective’s wonderful rewrite of pop music’s syntax.

Dan Rule

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