ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion I’ve had a few weeks to absorb Merriweather Post Pavilion now, and I’d like to respond to the biggest claim that everybody seems to be making about this album: namely, that Merriweather Post Pavilion is somehow Animal Collective’s “pop” album.

I disagree.

Now, it’s always tricky to talk genres when you’re talking about a band who’ve dedicated themselves existing beyond them (Animal Collective is one such band, but there are others – Ulver, Xiu Xiu and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, to name a few). But I think that if you’re going to make the argument that one Animal Collective album is their “pop” album, it would have to be Strawberry Jam. The arrangements on that album most closely resemble pop music: songs with the classic “verse/chorus” structure that gleefully make the most of simple, exuberant repetition. If you’re not quite sure what I am talking about listen to For Reverend Green or Winter Wonder Land and then compare them to, say, My Girl, and then tell me which is more “poppy” sounding.

Now, nothing that I mentioned above should serve as a distraction from the fact that Merriweather Post Pavilion is one of the strongest albums Animal Collective have ever released. It’s just that the reason I find it so compelling is different from why everyone else does. I don’t hear a pop album here. Merriweather Post Pavilion, to me, sounds like what would happen if we were to launch Animal Collective into space and have them record an album there. Each song inhabits a shimmering, blissed-out vastness; most people don’t talk about physical space when discussing what an album sounds like, but Merriweather Post Pavilion inhabits such a curiously fascinating aural cavern of half-submerged electronics and gorgeous harmonies that it’s hard to ignore. If you want a real treat, get a real nice pair of headphones, and turn the volume. Just don’t close your eyes. You might wake up on Mars.

In a way, I think labeling Merriweather Post Pavilion as the band’s pop album is more than erroneous – it cheapens what really makes the album so special. True, Animal Collective do sometimes sound more like one genre than others; Sung Tongs, for example, sounds kind of like a folk album (but only kind of). Merriweather Post Pavilion, however, has a sound all of its own.

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4 Responses to “ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)”

  1. […] to see them live if they come to Ottawa. Reading information about this band. It states that Animal Collective’s music is avant-garde genre. I find Merriweather Post Pavillion sounds poppy with a mix of […]

  2. […] with one album, managed to reach some sort of previously unattained middle-ground: don’t like Animal Collective because they’re too weird? Step right up. Hate TV on the Radio because they’re too […]

  3. […] years, Xiu Xiu have been the unrivaled, grand-motherfucking-champions of perverse indie rock. Sure, Animal Collective’s neo-psychedelic fits are kind of out there, and The Dirty Projectors have been known to toss genres […]

  4. […] chance to see them live if they come to Ottawa. Reading information about this band. It states that Animal Collective’s music is avant-garde genre. I find Merriweather Post Pavillion sounds poppy with […]

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