In March 2007, Animal Collective member Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox released what would become the darling of the indie music world. “Person Pitch” topped countless end-of-year lists and garnered monumental acclaim, some of which came from mainstream press outlets like Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone.
Influential music websites Pitchfork Media and Tiny Mixtapes named “Person Pitch” the best album of 2007.
“Merriweather Post Pavillion” seems to have taken the band in a different direction, steering it into happy medium between the group’s arduous yet unique earlier work and Panda’s latest sundrenched masterpiece.
“Merriweather” is inarguably Animal Collective’s most accessible album to date.
Some of the group’s earlier work consisted of pretentious psych-folk noise rock complete with howling gibberish and structureless songs, a stark contrast to the succinct and vibrant pop triumph that is “Merriweather Post Pavillion.”
Vocally, “Merriweather” has a very Panda-heavy sound. It’s peppered with Beach Boys vocal harmonies and a bright yet quirky sense of etherrealism.
The lyrics, while often hard to decipher, play second fiddle to the complex and often dense layers of sound.
And there are layers. While enjoyable immediately, the record is extremely rewarding on multiple listens.
Each track packs a seemingly endless set of buzzing and droning gizmos begging to be discovered.
The record opens with a sprawling psychadelic epic “In The Flowers.”
Front man Avey Tare softly sings something about a dancer who was high in a field. A carefully plucked acoustic guitar cuts through a haze of whirring electronics.
Over two minutes elapse before Avey suddenly ponders “If I could just leave my body for a night.” qeueing a rush of pounding mechanical rythms and a tribal drum pattern which lifts the track out of somber introspection and into a dream-like state of effervescent euphoria.
“My Girls” is a brilliant ode to the simplest joys in life.
“I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things,” Lennox sings. Meandering through a flurry of staccato chirps and hand claps, Panda treads familiar territory, delivering his vocal-centric sound with characteristic astral dreaminess.
It is in these moments of unblemished bliss where the group’s carefree sound can be best enjoyed.
The middle of the album is highlighted by a valiant attempt at romance in “Bluish” and the sweaty hallucinatory romp “Summertime Clothes.”
Upon initial inspection of the album, it seems as if there are no tracks one could deem “skippable.”
Even the worst track is good, a telltale sign of greatness.
While not a bad song, the least interesting is the dreary and foreboding “No More Runnin” which seems to serve as a spacer before the record’s incredible final track.
“Brother Sport,” the closer, is an insanely addictive, utterly awe-inspiring, upbeat frolic through a Brazilian electro-pop playground. It’s simple structure sees a number of Panda’s sing-song chants expand and contract before culminating in a brilliant explosion of MDMA-laden, electronically amplified psychadelia.
“Merriweather Post Pavillion” aggregates the very best elements of Animal Collective’s library and streamlines them in a seemingly accessible pop record. Gone are the creepy vocal tics and screaming which plagued the band’s previous releases.
The band has recognized Panda’s foray into solo recording and expound on its style with great success.
“Merriweather” succeeds in retaining all that Animal Collective have developed for the past 10 years while easily establishing itself as the group’s best iteration.
Jason Burt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.