Animal Collective (AC) albums are impossible to review. Not to bang the ultimate cop-out drum, but it's true. If you've heard their music, you have an opinion and (really) you don't care what I'm about to say. Those of you that love 'em will continue to love â€˜em. Those of you that hate 'em will continue to hate â€˜em. Animal Collective creates polarizing music and the only reason you're reading my review is to get confirmation on your opinion... that just sucks.
Anyway, now that's off my chest, I'll say that the real problem when reviewing AC is that they play experimental rock and like most experimental music, there is little middle ground for casual bystanders to stand on. Animal Collective does not make music you'll hear many DJâ€™s spin at a house party. You won't hear it come across the radio on the way to a bar. You won't hear it at a Miami club. No, Animal Collective writes music lovers... it's music designed to be listened to, not just heard. Most experimental rock musicians create music that should be treated like a relationship. You've gotta spend time with it. You need to put on the headphones, pay attention to what the music is saying, and how it's saying it. Animal Collective's music is complex, interesting, and meticulously put together. You have to treat it with respect. Like a relationship, youâ€™re going to either love & cherish it, or hate it & want to end it as soon as possible. Like other AC albums, Merriweather Post Pavilion (MPP) is experimental, pushing the general bounds that mainstream music sets.
The strength of this album is certainly in the subtle details; details that sometimes take minutes to reach. This is not an album that you can pick up, listen to the opening hook, and know if you'll like. Merriweather Post Pavilion is less listener friendly than Feels. Its beats are used more judiciously than in Strawberry Jam. Still, like the AC you're used to, songs on MPP develop slowly and are built on repetition. For the casual observer, this can become tedious, but fans of previous A.C. work will not only welcome it, but they will also find MPP more mature and stronger than in previous offerings.
"My Girls," is a beautiful song that gains power as layers drip onto it. It's my favorite on the album, especially as the beat enters to drive the song along. AC show a deep understanding of music as the lyric's tempo, drags, jumps, and ultimately transform to harmonic tones.
"Bluish," probably the song with most mass appeal, is subtle and full of interesting sounds to pick apart. It's smooth, it's upbeat, and itâ€™s great.
Additionally, â€œBrothersportâ€ is full of the singular moments that make up the greatness of this album. The music itself morphs throughout the piece, creating a journey through a landscape of tones, emotions, and vocal depth.
There are moments where MPP falters, although not frequent. In an album that seems to celebrate consistency, "Daily Routine's" organ breaks get old... we could certainly use less of those. As with other albums, A.C. will at times sacrifice listenability with experimental sounds or long outro's/intro's... almost like they're daring the listener to turn it off. This can be off putting. Thankfully, the album on whole is strong enough to forgive a couple minor annoyances.
If you're a fan of Animal Collective, you'll love it. If you're not, sorry... you're missing out. If you've yet to form an opinion, form it in full context. Remember, Animal Collective is polarizing... you aren't going to like it: you're going to love it, or hate it. The best advice I can give on this album (or almost any Animal Collective album) is to buy a song or two and listen to them in their entirety. The biggest travesty you can pull is to form your opinion off of the 30 second iTunes sound-bites. You'll walk away unsatisfied and unimpressed. Take the time to really listen and understand what direction Animal Collective is trying to go. If you do, I think you'll find a band you can really get behind: A band that makes music for music lovers.