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Friday, October 31, 2008

Merriweather Post Pavilion

[confirmed album art]

Animal Collective did not play at Harlem's River Room Tuesday, but an intimate audience of about 150 devoted fans, including myself, broken up into two sessions had the opportunity to hear Merriweather Post Pavilion in its entirety. To do away with the basic facts, this is AC's ninth album, Deakin is still on hiatus and the LP is due January 20th on CD, double LP and digital formats via Domino. Now that we have that out of the way, lets get down to business.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is not the pop-infused autumn jams of well...Strawberry Jam, nor is it a display of genuine honesty, love and friendship evident in epics such as Sung Tongs or Feels. Merriweather Post Pavilion is a swamp bubbling over into a river. The muck is rinsed clear and made safe to play in, but as you splash about there is still evidence of the swamp. Do not expect to be blown away by a first listen, MPP is an album that will forever grow on you making each play a redeeming experience. More dense and less melodic than previous albums, MPP is characterized by repetition, thick bass and a consistent pattern.

1. In The Flowers
From the first haunting pitch to come from MPP a radical change in production is obvious. Trading in their live sound for the feel of a studio produced album, Animal Collective makes an explosive first impression through trance inducing beats, high reverb on Avey's vocals and an affinity for the minor scale. The track ends with a ghostly whisper transitioning into one of my favorite tracks of the album, "My Girls."

2. My Girls
If you've caught Animal Collective live in the past year then you've most likely seen their performance of "My Girls" coming in during "Daily Routine." Filled with heavenly declarative singing from both Panda and Avey, "My Girls" may be one of AC's most complementary vocal tracks. With a booming bass drum and a strong contrast between singing and sampling I would not be too surprised if remixes begin to appear. What an epic chorus...

3. Also Frightened
I noted this down as "demented carousel music," on this album AC utilize the pure sound of a keyboard and introduce violent and more sporadic rhythms. Harmonies from both Avey and Panda go well with the heavy bass drum. At this point there is no transition and the music stops for the first time.

4. Summertime Clothes
Summertime Clothes begins as if you took "We Tigers" in your left hand, "Purple Bottle" in your right and just began to clap. This freak-pop gives many props to Geologist for a driving bass and twisting/contorting of melodies. Central lyric - "I want to walk around with you."

5. Daily Routine
I'm pumped that "Daily Routine" has been so altered from its live performances. With dense intervals and a bumpy texture it has become anthemic and universally resonant. The vocals nurture the complex sampling and instrumentation and a perfect level of decay has been applying to the vocal track.

6. Bluish
This is the closest MVP will get to sounding like the Water Curses EP. Entering in what an unfamiliar ear could become confused with dub, "Bluish" sounds like hanging out outside of a club or venue. The most stripped down song on the album.

7. Guys Eyes
Strong, intense and explosive droned out bliss. The most driven and powerful force on the album leads into one of the great transitions of Animal Collective, welcome "Taste."

from here i will refer directly to my notes
8. Taste
electronic playground. heavy on the flange. chromatic blips.

9. Lion in a Coma
One of the more pop infused tracks from the album. Very focused in terms of Avey's range and precise timing of samples.

10. No More Runnin'
Children's lullaby with a hip-hop undertone. One of the few tracks that vocals are clear and understandable - al though reverb is added there is little affectation otherwise.

11. Brothersport
Personally, my favorite song of the year. "Brother Sport," now "Brothersport" takes an unexpected turn from its live presentation. The initial sample now comes in later, every pitch is distinguishable and Panda's drums remain unchanged with the Portuguese influence which contrasts well with the electronic overdub. Avey's transitional screams have now been digitized and sound like a power drill, this is complemented by Panda's soft melodies. This leads to the album's climax with the most beautiful melody that the band has created this side of "Winter's Love." There is a final essplosion (pun intended) of Panda and Avey closing what is surely their most experimental album to date.

Is this the visual album we've heard about or will that appear next year as well? As the days count down to January 20 for a variety of reasons coughObamacough, I certainly can't wait to hear this album again (and again).

Expect another, more accurate, review at the album's release and please refer here for some tracks mentioned above.

Happy Halloween!

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