Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Record Review: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

After a six-month long fanfare of blog-whetting hyperbole and disingenuous half-truths, Merriweather Post Pavilion [MPP] has finally – FINALLY - landed. So what’s to be made of Animal Collective long-player number nine? Well, iris-crossing cover art aside (It's nae moving, but it fucking is), it's exactly what you'd expect from these perennial, Baltimore-born boundary pushers: A micro-cosmic conflate of wobbling electronics snared by harpsichordal Wilson-stitched harmonies and skeletal folk ricochets.

But far from an extension of 2007's much-lauded Strawberry Jam, MPP seems more attuned to the cloud-bursting dreamscapes of Panda Bear's majestic Person Pitch. The shimmering, cherryade sonics imbued within on-the-spot jogger Brother Sport and the equally frantic My Girls may not mark a Tardis-like rejuvenation in either scope or scale but they're unavoidably Animal Collective and, with that, they're undeniably mesmerising.

A wealth of ethereal, space-aged cuts peppers the inner core of this openly exploratory affair. Summertime Clothes' slew of key and chorus spiral giddily into the cosmos before crossing more intricate constellations in Daily Routine's mesh of rhythmic synth-bending; and such star-twinkling pathways continue to be hopped, skipped and pirouetted throughout the record's remaining numbers.

So far, so Animal Collective.

Yet, MPP displays a side that’s long been embellished under layers of gauzy instrumentation and muffled, tin-pot vocals: a cohesive, linear narrative that reeks of affection. Bluish, a hopeless, habitual love song that’s engrossed in childish desire, is the kind of tear-duct moistening lament that's oceanic in melodic depth, while No More Runnin’ and Taste are textured in such creamy, heart-cooing splendour it feels almost intrusive to wade through their deeply welled, emotional mires.

For those requiring the less expressive edifices of yore, a familiar sense of derangement eventually emerges in the Lion In A Coma’s pulsing tribal fizz. But even in this chasm of android chimes and scattershot percussion, wary lugholes retain a periscope-like tautness in anticipation of the soul-plucking ambuscade destined to follow. But, like the teasing chanteuse of an album MPP is, it never comes.

See, such playful, esoteric card-shuffling is what renders this record - and, ultimately, this group - a truly unique proposition. A rich, multi-layered amalgamation of the band's past, MPP captures the cascading feints of their less-celebrated roots and cloys them together with Strawberry Jam's pyrotechnic showers, producing an instantaneous and exhilarating imprint of Animal Collective in the here and now.

God only knows where they go from here.

First published here