Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)


In 2007, Animal Collective released what I consider to be one of the best albums of the decade, Strawberry Jam. Met with opposition from some fans, Strawberry Jam saw the band bidding farewell to the tribal shouts and bursts of noise that had made some tracks on early albums Sung Tongs and Here Comes The Indian sound like they were dancing on the line between insanity and genius.  Yet at the same time, the album reaffirmed the strange flirtations with pop music that the band had begun integrating into their sonic weirdness on Feels and Sung Tongs.  Strawberry Jam was simpler instrumentally, relying on samples or repetitive guitar progressions, and more lyrically focused, displaying vocalist Avey Tare’s best work to date.  Animal Collective’s 2009 effort Merriweather Post Pavilion once again asserts the bands groundbreaking ability to combine pop with a mess of psychedelia and electronic music.

The album draws influence from Animal Collective member Panda Bear’s 2007 release Person Pitch, which had Panda Bear utilizing minimalist samples under lush vocal layering and harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys.  Panda Bear takes a much larger role on Merriweather Post Pavilion than he did on Strawberry Jam, playing main vocalist for most of the songs on the album.  Avey Tare has his solo vocal performances also, but the vocal harmonies between the two members is where the album finds its beauty and strength.  Songs like  “Also Frightened” and “Bluish” feature the vocalists perfectly weaving their voices into one spine-tingling wail.  Gone also are the cacophonous screams and screeches that Avey used on tracks like “Grass” or “For Reverend Green.”  The instrumentation is once again minimalist in its approach, employing simplistic ethereal keyboard lines, steady rhythms, strange samples and thumping bass.  The recording is heavy on reverb, which accentuates the soaring vocals and catchy rhythms and is certainly reminiscent of many of the tracks on Person Pitch.  Though a bit less varied than Strawberry Jam, the album flows perfectly while managing to change both the tempo and mood from song to song.  The opener, “In The Flowers,” begins as an intimate combination of Avey’s cryptic whispers and quiet piano before exploding into a intense mix of heavy drums and accented keys.  “No More Runnin” is based off of a bouncy piano line while the rhythms on “Taste” vaguely resemble reggae.  “My Girls” is easily both the album’s most accessible and best track.  “I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things, like a social status!  I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls!” cries Panda Bear at the end of the song, backed by an infectious bass line and triumphant drums.  “Summertime Clothes” is Avey’s highlight, with him delivering verses full of cryptic lyrics and then exploding into a beautifully catchy chorus with Panda Bear.  The album’s closer, “Brothersport,” is a wild mix of “Comfy In Nautica” sounding samples, animal noises and Panda Bear’s poppy melodies.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is a near perfect execution of a psychedelic pop album.  It seems as if the band has abandoned the stranger elements of their past work and focused on creating an easy to listen to, cohesive album. Like I said, I believe that Strawberry Jam is the group’s best execution and combination of the older strange psychedelic influence with their ever-improving ability to write pop songs, but I would not be surprised if Merriweather Post Pavilion is eventually regarded as Animal Collective’s best work. It is a truly breathtaking album and a fantastic way to start off the year.  Animal Collective have now proved that not only can they create some of the strangest genre-bending music of the past decade, but also that they are superb songwriters.  And their unique take on pop has created an album that will be remembered for years to come.  Check out Merriweather Post Pavilion, out now on Domino, and catch the band on tour this spring-summer.

Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009):

(mp3) Animal Collective – My Girls
(mp3) Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes

Animal Collective World Tour
01-21 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
01-22 Chicago, IL – Metro
01-23 Los Angeles, CA – Henry Fonda Theatre
01-24 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
03-04 Oslo, Norway – Rockerfeller
03-05 Lund, Sweden – Mejeriet
03-06 Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio
03-08 Cologne, Germany – Gloria
03-09 Heidelberg, Germany – Karistorbahnof
03-10 Fribourg, Switzerland – Fri-Son
03-11 Luzern, Switzerland – Konzerthaus Schurr
03-12 Florence, Italy – Viper Room
03-13 Rome, Italy – Teatro Studio
03-14 Milan, Italy – Rolling Stone
03-16 Strasbourg, France – La Laiterie
03-17 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
03-18 Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique
03-19 Lille, France – Aeronef
03-20 Nantes, France – L’Olympic
03-22 Bristol, England – Trinity Centre
03-23 Nottingham, England – Rescue Rooms
03-24 London, England – The Forum
03-25 Leeds, England – TJ’s Woodhouse Club
03-26 Liverpool, England – Static Gallery
03-27 Dublin, Ireland – Tripod
03-28 Belfast, Ireland – Stiff Kitten
05-11 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
05-12 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
05-13 New York, NY – Terminal 5
05-14 Boston, MA – House of Blues
05-15 Montreal, Quebec – Metropolis
05-16 Toronto, Ontario – Sound Academy
05-18 Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Hall
05-19 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
05-20 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
05-24 Vancouver, British Columbia – Commodore Ballroom
05-25 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
05-26 Oakland, CA – Fox Theatre
05-27 Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Memorial Library
05-29 Los Angeles, CA – Wiltern
05-30 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
05-31 Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theater
06-01 Albuquerque, MN – Sunshine Theater
06-02 Boulder, CO – Boulder Theatre
06-04 Dallas, TX – House of Blues
06-05 Austin, TX – Stubbs
06-06 Oxford, MS – The Library
06-08 St. Petersburg, FL – State Theatre
06-09 Fort Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
06-10 Orlando, FL – Club Firestone
09-12 Monticello, NY – All Tomorrow’s Parties

2 thoughts on “Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

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