You're going to be sick of this one in a few months' time. Trust me. Predictably, the backlash has already started and Pitchfork haven't even posted their review yet. One thing's for sure, though: the new Animal Collective is a corker. In fact, after several listens, it's my favourite album of theirs yet. Their last effort, 2007's Strawberry Jam, was a good album (marked particularly by the raucous single Peacebone) but suffered from a slight lack of cohesion and an irritatingly tinny production job. Merriweather Post Pavilion corrects those errors: the album sports a much warmer, richer sound, keeping the electronic elements that were introduced on Strawberry Jam but also featuring rich vocal harmonies and a greater pop sensibility than ever before, suggesting that the band have also taken cues from Panda Bear's own 2007 solo effort, Person Pitch. It's also Animal Collective's most accessible and danceable record to date: in fact, if there's any justice in the world, the absurdly infectious 'My Girls' (which features an absolutely enormous beat that could rub shoulders with even Lil' Wayne's biggest hits) will become a dancefloor-filler in indie clubs in the coming months. 'Summertime Clothes' is also a hit waiting to happen: matching a Beatles-esque vibe to a squelchy synth-laden stomp, it's ironic that the song will be hitting our stereos in the middle of the winter because it would make the perfect summertime pop song. And, of course, I challenge you not to be compelled to dance around your room like a madman the first time album closer 'Brothersport' works its way into your ears: perhaps the most jubilant moment so far in the discography of a band who are no strangers to smiles and sunshine, its gloriously rhythmic call-and-response hooks give way to an instrumental mid-section buildup that is, rather surprisingly, very reminiscent of techno or house, before resuming the hooks and handclaps right up until the album finishes.
There couldn't be a more perfect way to start the record than with 'In The Flowers': starting with a floating cloud of psychedelic noise over which Avey Tare sings a dreamy melody, following the line "If I could just leave my body for a night..." the heavens open and gigantic rays of sunshine synths and thundering percussion tumble down from the sky. It's like falling asleep and finding oneself in a surreal but beautiful dream. The remainder of the 55 minutes is one giant trip: Merriweather Post Pavilion is a hefty dose of celebratory psychedelia, from the gorgeous free-form midsection of 'Daily Routine' to the candyfloss synth arpeggios of 'Taste' and the bizarre didgeridoo sample in 'Lion in a Coma'. There is a prevalent Beach Boys vibe too, particularly evident in the beautifully sugary lovesong 'Bluish' or its followup track 'Guys Eyes'. 'No More Runnin'' provides a nice respite from the madness, its nocturnal balladry allowing you to catch your breath before 'Brothersport' comes to finish the record in style. A wonderfully cohesive effort that retains all of the experimentation that we've come to love from Animal Collective while providing their catchiest songs yet, this album will inevitably get the hype-avalanche treatment in the coming months. Get in early before everyone from your dad to your grandma is jabbering about it.
In keeping with Domino Records' wishes, I've removed the link that was here before. Sorry!