Indie-rockers Animal Collective released “Merriweather Post Pavilion” on Jan. 20. “Merriweather” is their eighth studio album following 2005’s “Feels.” “Merriweather” carries on the band’s tradition of psychedelic eccentricity, while introducing a softer emphasis on melody over abstract sound.
The New York-based quartet revealed new layers of their music by shedding old ones – keeping the freakadelic sound effects to a minimum and letting their voices serve as dominant instruments.
While some tracks go astray in their spastically colorful trips, (“Also Frightened,” “Daily Routine,” “Lion in a Coma”), others are kept on track by catchy, head-bopping beats appealing to anyone with an appreciation for unique effects over harmonic vocals. Hits off the album, “My Girls” and “Summertime Clothes,” have a joyful feel made unique by their balance of crazed energy and swirling harmonics. The noise-pop’s African roots are acknowledged through innovative beats, especially on “Taste” and “Brother Sport.” The band even takes a stab at romance with “Bluish,” which results in a semi-eerie, yet hopeful cry for affection.
Animal Collective’s organic songwriting gives off a psychedelic Beach Boys vibe on “Merriweather” with a touch of new-age indie ranging from Tokyo Police Club to a hyped-up Fleet Foxes. Band members Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist continue to wail their ecstatic weirdness, but their unrefined sound is well-received on “Merriweather” to the point of being hard to resist. Although toning down the oddness could potentially put Animal Collective at risk of cultural over-play, “Merriweather” seems to be more innovative than a sellout.
The transcendent album does have more listenable tracks, but escapes succumbing to generic mediocrity. “Merriweather” brings out the purest of Animal Collective, leaving the listener floored, (in a good way), by their whimsical splendor.
Final Grade: A-