Review of Animal Collective's album 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' released through Domino.
The haunting opening chords to Merriweather Post Pavilion's first track 'In the Flowers' transports us once more into Animal Collective's strange parallel universe. They've been quietly recording and releasing music for over 9 years now and although their fan base is solid, they have never really gathered wider universal acclaim. Whilst continually lauded by certain musical critics all along; rather suddenly, the band's column inches have increased. A double page spread in the NME last month has resulted in what could almost be termed a brush with popularity and this, their ninth album, may prove to be their biggest yet.
The band has always divided opinion; hailed with one hand for their avant-garde tendencies whilst pushed away with the other for being inaccessible. Perhaps wisely, Animal Collective appear to have taken a cautious attitude towards any acclaim or criticism, and continue to make music to please themselves.
As of any AC output, Merriweather Post Pavilion is a rich and dense sounding record. It somehow has more of an electronic feeling to it than previous albums such as Feels; 'Summertime Clothes' has a pounding bass line and 'Daily Routine' channels Cut-Copy's warm electronic styling. Merriweather Post Pavilion remains complex but, like most albums truly worth discovering, it is the third and fourth time on repeat in which reveals its true gleeful brilliance. 'My Girls' suddenly picks up a looping beat which is so satisfying no one should question its choice as first single. 'Brother Sport,' the album's closing track, is a strange and enjoyable pleasure. It begins in the most playful of melodies, departs inch by inch into a rhythmic wave of sound and somehow back again. And with this, the album finishes on a glorious up note.
It seems strange that although the band's popularity appears to have increased, MPP is no more commercial than any of its predecessors. If anything it could be seen as even more experimental; its swirling rhythms are often challenging and it is not the sort of record you can just stick on in the background - it really does demand your attention.
So yes, it may not be instantly accessible. But as is true with Animal Collective's finest moments historically, with a little perseverance Merriweather Post Pavilion reveals itself to be a fine record.