Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
The musical ionosphere unleashed by the internet x number of years ago upon the musical public has certainly left both a scar and a joy in today’s music. The only problem was differentiating between the mindless noise generated by boys in their bedroom with a patchwork of analogue synths and the true genius that comes from electronic experimentation. As a first time listener to Animal Collective, I was left a little disorientated by their take on psychedelia and didn’t know whether they were just the Emperor’s new clothes or something else. Obviously, ‘My Girls’ and ‘Brother Sport’ were able to seduce me to the idea of Animal Collective, but the remainder of Merriweather Post-Pavilion left me at times lost for words. I think in essence my problems was that I wanted them to be something they weren’t; I wanted them to be a fusion of the Prodigy with Radiohead, artistically driven but retaining a sense of electronic minimalism. Clearly, I came to my senses and have since understood the brilliance of Merriweather Post-Pavilion, but I am left wondering did anyone else experience such wariness? Merriweather Post-Pavilion does not make for easy listening, although it retains a relaxed mentality with soft synths, it commands a concentration. It leaves the listener feeling that if they don’t devote a full 55 minutes of attention to the album, they will have missed the point. As such I feel that Merriweather Post-Pavilion is a lot like a new pair of jeans (bare with me); at first it feels awkward, there’s something different about it but you’re not sure whether you like it, and it is only after you have worn them in that you finally realise that the strange feeling is actually good and has just taken some getting used to. (I feel I may regret that clumsy metaphor, alas). After I finally realised the brilliance of Merriweather Post-Pavilion I was able to appreciate the songs that had kept me at arm’s length from the band... Often described as their ‘pop’ album, it is understandable that most of the songs are self contained and exhibit a charm to them that attracts the listener into the strange world of Merriweather Post-Pavilion. Opener, ‘In the Flowers’ is a brilliant benchmark that introduces and eases you into the arbitrary synths and haunting vocals. Tidal waves of psychedelic, regurgitating synths cascaded against baroque arpeggios immediately teleports you into a world of Woodstock broths and carnivalesque escapism. ‘My Girls’ then takes up where ‘In the Flowers’ left with the mid-paced sequencers that crescendo via Panda Bear and Avery Tare’s call and response vocals. Fraught with touching sentiments such as; “I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things, like a social status” you find Animal Collective to be a band more mature then the synths and sequencers suggest. Imbued with Geologist’s synthestration (is that a word? I guess it is now), ‘My Girls’ and ‘In the Flowers’ collectively sets a premise for the rest of the album, that doesn’t disappoint... Brimming with songs such as ‘Also Frightened’, ‘Daily Routine’ and ‘No more Runnin’, Animal Collective unleash an impressive repertoire of songs that woo and wow in equal measure. On a personal note, my favourite ‘Summertime Clothes’ for me spells all that is brilliant about Animal Collective. It pools together their use of driving synths and chanting melodic phrases, that is by far the most direct song on Merriweather Post-Pavilion. It then moves effortlessly into an anthemic chorus before climaxing to a thunderous end. The album’s closing act, ‘Brother Sport’ is again a song that draws the listener’s attention rolling between Mardi gras choruses and codas that leaves an aftertaste in the mouth that is almost addictive (perhaps I’m going a bit too fat, but still). Merriweather Post-Pavilion’s closing number is one that will make it hard for any music lover to forget about Animal Collective too soon... Despite the fact that Animal Collective practically have album diarrhoea, with one every 18 months it would seem, they often don’t dwell on their more brilliant moments. As well as being lost in the blogosphere that they in part contribute to, many listeners won’t take them seriously or hear them at all. In many ways it’s a tragedy that Animal Collective can be simply dubbed as a hyped up, lo-fi, blog-band, but it does provide one benefit. It has made them a band that isn’t afraid of alienating their audience because it isn’t a broad one, or an intolerant one for that matter, they can take risks and experiment and above all truly immerse themselves in their capabilities. This is what makes Merriweather Post-Pavilion and Animal Collective brilliant contributions to music.