Review Summary: An album that means so many different things to so many different people succeeds on so many levels
“If I could just leave my body for a night” sings Panda Bear 3 minutes into the opening track, ‘In the Flowers,’ before the mystical phantasm that is Merriweather Post Pavilion
rears its head in beautiful chaos for the first time. It's the 20th time I've heard this song, but chills still run down my spine as if it was my first.
But let’s back up for a second. For those who have successfully boxed themselves into a world devoid of hipsters, Animal Collective is:
David Portner (Avey Tare)
Noah Lennox (Panda Bear)
Brian Weitz (Geologist)
Josh Dibb (Deakin – not featured on this album)
If you've heard any Animal Collective at all, it’s the album’s second track, 'My Girls,' which is found on the iPod of almost anyone with even the faintest interest in indie rock. And there is a lot to like – a steady domesticated beat, flowing rhythms and a track that is both catchy and unique, but this is nowhere near the best the album has to offer. More probably, the best song on the album is 'Bluish,' a track subtly written about giving cunnilingus, but one that also happens to be one of the most beautiful tracks ever recorded. “It makes me so crazy, though I can’t say why” may be what Panda Bear’s thinking as he eats out his girlfriend or that lucky bimbo he just met at a bar, yet it also details the essence of the song. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s so alluring, but as it just floats about so gorgeously, it is a difficult thing not to admire.
‘Also Frightened’ serves as a perfect lead in to the crucial ‘Summertime Clothes,’ and with them comes an incredibly palpable yearning for romance and you see a boy who is scared of what this means. The beat behind the latter is as contagious as any on the album, and the more it engulfs you, the more you find yourself enjoying this gem, the more the rest of the album falls into place. And through and through, it is rock solid, with not a single track that is worth skipping. ‘Daily Routine’ is a well-made sensationalized 6 minute ode to your average day, ‘Guys Eyes,’ another album highlight, playfully promotes the craving to masturbate, and ‘No More Runnin’ could be the most inspired track on the album. The contagious and almost schizophrenic ‘Lion in a Coma’ is a beast well worth taming. As the quirky track about a long ignored animal instinct springs out and seduces you, it manages to simultaneously maintain its eerie façade while still coming together so smoothly.
Overall, this may not be a perfect 5, but it is close. As innovative and talented as Animal Collective is, they lack a clear vision which guides everything together. Merriweather Post Pavilion
has an extraordinary amount of diverse tracks, and it manages to showcase some of the best experimental pop ever heard. But it is not the overarching record of the decade as many describe it because as effectively as it manages to impress on so many levels, it tries too hard to be so many different things. The album walks the line between accessible and detached, the line between pop and experimental and the line between mainstream and underground. It is truly a phenomenal feat to navigate all of these opposing forces so carefully, but doing so also leaves the album with a lack of a true identity.
Some people cannot take this album seriously because of how childish Animal Collective is, while others hate it because they believe it represents too impersonal a side to a band that once had so much raw energy. But closer ‘Brother Sport’ might be the best showcase of what Merriweather Post Pavilion is all about. About 3 minutes into the both frenzied and catchy closer, breathe deeply. If you aren’t trapped inside some 14 year old microcosm of yourself, you’re either intensely focused on something else or you’re probably desperately craving an end to the song. Yet this is as fine a line as Animal Collective has ever walked, and they manage to do so with such grace that the album is a resounding success.
and I want to walk around with you
just you just you just you just you