Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Merriweather Post Pavilion
Album: Merriweather Post Pavilion
Domino, 2009
Rating: ********* (9/10)

Easily the most anticipated release of 2009, Merriweather Post Pavilion is around the fifth or sixth album from the Brooklyn-based Animal Collective. Most of their half-dozen releases have been greeted with massive acclaim, but none more so than this, which has been lauded as the band's finest achievement to date.

I can't speak to that, because I'll admit I'm not all that familiar with the band's earlier work. What I can say is that it's an outstanding album, and one you should get your hands on soon.

I'm not going to the extreme that some reviewers have (I think the folks over at Pitchfork have started a cult or something), but it's definitely worth a lot of the excitement it's generated so far. This is psychedelic pop at its best, with melodies that could compete in the UK's 1960's and rhythms that draw equally from New York City club tracks and Afro-caribbean radio hits. Most impressive of all is the production - every voice and every effect is honed with such care that the album is unbelievably near to sonic perfection.

The other aspects of the album aren't as flawless - there are tracks that will probably get more skips than listens as the album's novelty wears off, and there are melodies and compositions that become irritating or unfocused, but those certainly constitute a small minority of the album. I have no doubt that songs like "My Girls," "Summertime Clothes" and "Lion in a Coma" will be listened to and loved for many years to come. What's more, the album as a whole will rightfully hang on to its anticipated status as a classic of experimental pop, earning Animal Collective once and for all a place alongside Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips and the rest of the great wacky popsters of the American underground.

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