Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion


5.0
classic

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
January 6th, 2009 | 4103 replies | 136,080 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Merriweather Post Pavilion is an experience, an interactive pop album marrying every envelope Animal Collective has been pushing.

In a lot of ways Merriweather Post Pavilion isn’t just Animal Collective’s “pop” album or best album, it is also the most interactive. The band describes it as music worthy of outdoors listening- or, more specifically, the outdoor Maryland venue the album gets it title from- and they’re right on the money.

Animal Collective’s classic back catalogue, from the frosty textures in Sung Tongs to the abrasive freak-folk in Strawberry Jam, works on a larger scale than your normal band, but the music is still meant for bumping in your trunk or under the colored lights of a basement venue.

Merriweather Post Pavilion just proves Avey Tare and Panda Bear (real names David Portner and Noah Lennox, respectively) are expert songwriters, turning in a grandstand of production and editing. They achieve their feat, perfecting a sound they’ve been honing through nine studio albums, and it explodes with the sky in mind.

As an engaging and gripping pop album from front to back, Merriweather Post Pavilion could easily sustain a club for 55 minutes with the smooth framework that so effortlessly strings together 11 potential singles.

Avey Tare and Panda Bear are working harmoniously, becoming a rock band right before our eyes. Merriweather Post Pavilion has the breakout appeal which none of Animal Collective’s albums could reach before, bridging together a collection of standard-sized pop tunes that never sharpen their edges or step out of line. It all congeals into a modern tour-de-force of psychedelic pop, tribal folk, sonic electronics and whatever else comes to mind.

It begins with a rumble that ripples right through to the messy stampede, “Brothersport.” “In the Flowers” begins with strings pulsating through water, dripping in gothic textures before the spluttering water gives way to a ground shaking tribal pulse, Avey Tare’s distinct bubbly persona breaking through to deliver each smile-inducing lick of imaginative non-sequiturs (“She walked up with a flower and I cared”).

“My Girls” takes it a step further, building a cascading waterfall of synths and slight distancing to the vocals as the song leaps into its rallying verse and chorus, interspersed with the aforementioned handclaps and domestic commentary (“I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things like my social status / I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls”).

Maturing in both sound and on paper, the lyrics on Merriweather Post Pavilion touch upon all the corners of domestic life. On “Summertime Clothes,” offset by cheers, an asphalt-ground synth that breaks down into electro-pop beamed from space, Avey Tare enjoys the tender surprises of exploring a familiar terrain (“It doesn’t really matter; I’ll go where you feel / hunt for the breeze, get a midnight meal / I point in the windows, you point out the parks / rip off your sleeves and I’ll ditch my socks”).

Even as the songs grow longer, the sound fuller and darkly primitive, Merriweather Post Pavilion rings more emotion out of the tension inside those adobe slabs. “Daily Routine” recognizes the mundane ins-and-outs of an everyday cycle taking care of the brat in the backseat (“What can I do as traffic pass? / Guard my girl from muffler’s black gas”); “Guy’s Eyes,” the urges not satisfied in the lion’s den.

Which brings us to “Lion in a Coma,” the best Animal Collective song ever, tangling all the elements that the band has spread over nine studio albums and a splattering of other EPs, with an elastic didgeridoo that sets the tone for the mystical folklore quality to Panda Bear’s campfire chants, sparking an irresistible urge to move when his show stopping “lion in a coma” becomes, eerily, “lying in a coma.”

Merriweather Post Pavilion is an experience, an interactive pop album marrying every envelope Animal Collective has been pushing and opens them all at once, ending in a euphoric mesh of African pop and Panda Bear’s signature experimental repetition on “Brothersport,” a more-than-fitting closer to the euphoric trip that precedes it.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is heartbreaking and heartwarming, and you can either disregard what is one of the most pleasing, enjoyably rich and rewarding releases of the past decade or rally with the rest of us, and clap, sing and blare it through the earphones on our iPods because, as “Taste” so elegantly points out, we are still all the things outside of us.



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user ratings (2179)
Chart.
3.9
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
gaslightanthem
January 6th 2009



5209 Comments


this really that good? i haven't heard it yet! but hey if it's a classic already well ...

iarescientists
January 6th 2009



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

soooo gooodododododo

Skyler
January 6th 2009



1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

knew the rating before i clicked

willfellmarsy
January 6th 2009



3849 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

handclaps are the worst things in music...

edit: excellent review, getting nowThis Message Edited On 01.06.09

iarescientists
January 6th 2009



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you are worse than cancer

LaidToRest329
January 6th 2009



158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hey this is a mighty fine album indeed.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2009



16081 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

wish you talked about brothersport more it is my favorite song.
this album made me a believer

psilocybin
January 6th 2009



74 Comments


Ha, thank you for writing a much better review than Pitchfork. This album deserves it.

This may go up to a 5 for me, but right now I'd definitely peg it at a 4.5

Probably their best album (takes a shit on Strawberry Jam)

P.S. Handclaps suck man.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I'm with you that "Lion in a Coma" is the best song on this album though I wouldn't say of all time for them. This album really irks me for a few crucial reasons. The basslines are too repetitive. They have their buzzy, synthesized bass sounds repeat the same single-note snare-drum syncing patterns throughout the entire album. Their sense of eclecticism is just BS exoticism like Vampire Weekend or Paul Simon. "Lion in a Coma" as good as it is just tosses around didgeridoo sounds as if to spice up the song but ends up sounding contrived and ridiculous. The vocals on "Brother Sport," meant to invoke African chant, suffer for the same reasons. Lastly, the album is way too homogeneous. On previous albums they did a good job of alternating stripped down arrangements with dense ones, creating nice contrasts. I think Animal Collective's most important characteristic on any song is their texture. Whereas their textures were all over the place on Sung Tongs, everything here is washed out in the same way. There's too much reverby synthesizer, too much buzzy bass line, and the vocals are pretty uniform throughout the album. The only ways this album really snares me are in the chord progressions and vocal melodies, which own on songs like "Lion in a Coma." However when those are the only positives, this album could have just as easily been a singer-songwriter, stripped down acoustic guitar and vocals effort, and would probably be better off as a result, if not an "Animal Collective album."

DFelon204409
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

[quote=Skyler]knew the rating before i clicked[/quote]

12345

Kiran
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think I've said this somewhere else already but if Strawberry Jam didn't earn them a place as one of my favourite artists, this pretty much cements the spot. Such a good album. Should be getting my vinyl of this really soon since vinyl release dates got pushed forward to today.

Spare
January 6th 2009



5250 Comments


Coolol.

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



3760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Couldn't ask for a better musical start to the year. I lovelovelove this.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

tombits
January 6th 2009



3469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I need this so much. How does it compare to Feels?

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



3760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is completely different to Feels. I still don't know if I like this better or not.

Altmer
January 6th 2009



5652 Comments


This sounds like it would be good if you enjoy this kind of thing, but I don't think I would.

Mendigo
January 6th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm still waiting for it to really be released around here. should arrive somtime at the end of January. seems like an eternity.

tombits
January 6th 2009



3469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is completely different to Feels. I still don't know if I like this better or not.

It sounds like an album full of tracks similar to Grass judging from the review.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



3760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes and no I guess, these tracks seem alot more confident, not just crazy/spastic/exploratory like Grass. I mean, they're still Animal Collective so everything here is still f'ucking insane, but it's like the whole album is just a celebration of everything that is good in the world.

Listen to it dammit!This Message Edited On 01.06.09

foreverendeared
January 6th 2009



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i need this. Strawberry Jam rules



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