Animal Collective has always been good at one thing, and that’s delving into really odd concepts with nostalgic backdrops. However, never before has the band been so obnoxiously happy and haphazard where it’s hard to get through a whole record when in fact you could just listen to something worthwhile instead. Merriweather Post Pavilion is meant to inspire you to jump around like the kid inside your soul but the problem the record has is overdoing the effect until the feeling expires, which happens far too early.
The record begins and ends with swaying, pulsating, echoing anthems, all of them containing very strange sounds depicting nature on acid and extremely loose vocal performances. From the random water splats to the bubbly backdrops, there’s just no room for more layers. The part that’s most annoying is how well-arranged it all is, and the part that makes that element annoying is how abhorrent the atmosphere becomes just after the first few tracks. In The Flowers is a promising beginning with guitar-tinged electronic dazing crescendo to smashing percussion, but right off the bat when My Girls starts it feels like you’ve just heard this before. The same effects are used far too periodically throughout the whole record, or if they are used on only one or two tracks, they are beat to ***ing death (see Summertime Clothes and its modulating twanging and spraying). Amongst the style of past-inspired leaping around, it’s like they recorded the thoughts of an autistic kid and knew anyone who liked this record could relate.
The biggest vice this album holds is its absolute stubbornness to let up at all on the redundancy. All the songs blend far too well together because of this, and sometimes when the album tries to switch things up, like on No More Runnin, it has a tendency to stick to the same pattern set from the beginning of the track, switching an interlude from a breather to a burden. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Brothersport has got to be the most obnoxious song on the record. Combining thirty-seven vocal layers and repeating MIDI-explosions is not the best way to end an album. But again, the album as a whole tries very hard. In fact you could say they're good at making songs that sound like well-arranged homo-erotica.
“Don’t look now, but Merriweather Post Pavilion might just be” audible brain damage. Electronica is a fairly malleable genre. Saying there’s an infinite amount of directions to take is an understatement, and unfortunately not all of those directions have been mastered, or even ventured. Some paths are just not meant to be taken.