Japanese pressing includes one bonus track, Summertime Clothes (Live). Hostess. 2009.
I'm getting lost in your curls
aquarices | USA | 01/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Animal Collective are one of the most acclaimed indie bands around. They're also one of the most polarizing. You don't often hear someone say, "Animal Collective? Meh. They're okay." It's either, "Man, they're freaking awesome," or "Ya, I just don't get it. What's the appeal?" I was a longtime member of the latter group until about a year ago. Admittedly, I hadn't heard too much of their stuff, what I had heard was mostly their oldest (read: weirdest) stuff, and I had never really given them the time of day. Then I heard the song "#1" from the album 'Strawberry Jam' and really liked it. I listened to the rest of the album and it all just clicked. From there, I fell in love with the band, dutifully scrounging up their past albums.
It was with great anticipation that I listened to 'Merriweather'. I had never heard any live versions of these songs at all before playing this album. I went in with completely virgin ears, free of any expectations or preconceived notions. IMO, this is their greatest album to date, and frankly, it isn't even close. That says more about the quality of MPP then it does of their previous albums.
This has more of an "electronic" sound (for lack of a better word) than past albums. It's not electro-pop or anything like that (maybe "Summertime Clothes" is), but it is very bassy and beat driven. You could almost put this on for a dance party (almost.) I could even imagine an avant garde hip-hop artist rhyming over some of these beats. After finding out that this album was produced by Ben Allen, who has worked with the likes of Gnarls Barkley, P. Diddy, and Christina Aguilera, it made total sense.
It starts off mellow enough, with the wonderful "In the Flowers." It's all beautiful ambiance until about 2:00 in, when Avey Tare says the words, "If I could just leave my body for a night." Then all hell breaks loose. Huge, epic, bassy, synthy awesomeness ensues, until it all simmers back down towards the end.
"My Girls" is probably the catchiest song they've ever recorded, with an amazing, club-ready beat and a chorus of: "I don't mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status/I just want four walls and adobe slats for my girls," followed by a sick drum fill and a shrieking "Woooo!" that would make Ric Flair proud. Not sure if it was intentionally meant to be ironic or not, but I couldn't help but notice that a "social status" isn't really a material thing at all, while "four walls and adobe slats" most certainly are material. Maybe I'm just over-analyzing. Either way, you'll be re-playing that song over and over in your head for some time after hearing it.
"Summertime Clothes" just might be AC's answer to M83's masterful album from 2008, 'Saturdays=Youth'. The first 30 seconds sound very similar to the beginning of the Battles song "Atlas", then it veers into territory that is definitely 80's-ish, but not in a cheeseball way at all. It's a super-catchy tune and is probably the second single behind "My Girls".
"Bluish" is easily the most beautiful song on the album, with a repeating refrain of, "I'm getting lost in your curls," intermingled with lines like, "I like your lips when you get mean." It's a wonderfully ethereal song that evokes memories of high school crushes that felt like they were the only thing worth living for.
The two closing songs, "No More Runnin" and "Brother Sport", couldn't be more different, but they work together wonderfully. The former is a very mellow, sparse, piano driven song that serves as a nice contrast to the rest of the album. The downtime doesn't last long, as "Brother Sport" goes right back to the deep bass and big beat sound, with Panda Bear telling us, "You've gotta open up your, open up your, open up your throat!" It's bouncy and crazy, building layer upon layer to create an incredibly awesome house beat. It's a fantastic end to a fantastic record.
Those are all the highlights, but there aren't really any lowlights to speak of. Whether it's the "#1"-esque synths of "Daily Routine"; the metaphysical musings of "Taste" ("Am I really all the things that are outside of me?" asks Avey); or the didgeridoo driven excitement of "Lion in a Coma", I really can't find any fault with this album. It might alienate some of the hardline, old-school AC fans, but it's just their loss. For anyone who has previously ignored them or just hasn't been feeling this band, give this album a chance. Once it sinks its claws into you, the grip will hold on for quite some time."
Finally! The AC album for people who hate AC.
Barrettbowie | Oakland, CA | 01/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For my money, Animal Collective's previous attempts at forging some pastiche of tribal spontaneity and skewed approximations of Beach Boy harmonies all failed miserably. I just didn't "get" them. The supposed cathartic power of their whimsical non-melodic non-pop song experiments was, to my confused ears, just pretentious dreck. The depth of their unconventionality, I was convinced, was matched only by their lack of talent.
Needless to say, this album really changed my opinion of the band. This is, as has been echoed by all of the fawning critics, their most polished, accessible, and ultimately best work to date. Which is to say, of course, that this is far from Top 40 material. The subtle layering of vocals over the wafting ether of what sounds like an orchestra of found organic sounds is really quite gorgeous.
In an age of the quick fix, individual MP3 song download, it is refreshing to hear an entire album that was and is meant as a whole album to be listened to in one sitting, in its entirety. MPP plays like some alien pastoral symphony, as one long piece divided into subtly shifting movements designated as "songs".
So maybe I was wrong about the band this whole time? I will definitely have to revisit their previous albums."
Accesible Animal Collective?
billy | 01/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The hype has been deafening to say the least. As soon as this album leaked, there were bloggers and reviewers literally falling all over themselves to praise this album. They were already declaring the race for best album of 2009 over 20 days in to the new year and some even went so far as to declare Merriweather Post Pavilion the best album of the decade. One thing is clear, if 2008 lacked a clearly defined critical darling, 2009 already has one with this album.
MPP is sort of a refinement of the direction Animal Collective took with Strawberry Jam. Strawberry Jam may have been their first major stab at pop songwriting, and it felt like a conscious break from their previous work. Instead of working with studio trickery and writing songs based on what kind of warped madness and manipulation they could throw in, Strawberry Jam's songwriting felt sturdy, like they could stand on their own with just an acoustic guitar. MPP has this sturdy songwriting as well for the most part, and most of the rougher parts have been sanded off as well. There's no crazy howling like on Reverend Green or Peacebone this time out. MPP is smooth, dreamy, and downright pleasant. It might be their most accessible album.
MPP makes use of drum loops, samples, and electronics for most of its sound backdrops. It's not electro-pop exactly, but it uses these elements to make a hazy and dreamy atmosphere for most of the songs. It fits in with Radiohead's Kid A and Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as albums that make creative use out of electronics while not being full blown electronica albums.
Sonically, it's most indebted to Panda Bear's solo album Person Pitch, particularly on songs like Guys Eyes and My Girls, where there's a lot of repetition and texture. As usual, the vocals are filled with reverb, and have layered harmonies. I'll drop the obligatory Beach Boys reference, because Noah Lennox sounds quite a bit like Brian Wilson. It also seems that Lennox is taking a more prominent position in the band. That may account for MPP's less abrasive qualities.
For me, most Animal Collective albums have been a bit scattershot. I usually like three or four tunes one each album, and the rest I can without. MPP falls a bit in to the same pattern. My Girls is an amazing song, and maybe my favorite Animal Collective song. It captures their optimistic, even childish side very well. He just wants to take care of his girls. Summertime Clothes is the catchiest song on the album. It's got a very memorable and very bright sounding chorus. The closer Brothersport is another obvious highlight, as is Lion in a Coma.
This time around the songs that aren't highlights are better overall. Daily Routine, No More Runnin, and Guys Eyes are all good songs in their own right, but they don't get as much play as the four mentioned above.
MPP is the most immediate and the most enjoyable Animal Collective album. There are fewer rough edges, fewer weird and warped moments, and it's a very cohesive album overall. Animal Collective, though widely loved in some circles, was kind of on the indie rock periphery. A lot of people didn't get them or outright disliked them. MPP is their shot at becoming widely accepted. It wouldn't surprise me if this album actually charted in the Top 30 on the Billboard Charts. "
They Make Me Happy
Carl W. Unruh | 01/23/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"They Make Me Happy.... Not a bad thing. I don't care if this is helpful. They make me happy."
Mark Eremite | Seoul, South Korea | 02/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Animal Collective has made a name for themselves with a sound that basically reflects their name. Their albums are chaotic events, with each musician announcing their lyrics and thrashing at their instruments as if they were playing slightly different versions of the same song. I was impressed by their goals, but in past albums I felt like it usually devolved into the musical equivalent of a riot, energetic, complex, but sometimes atonal and unformed.
Sung Tongs and Feels both had songs that I loved and played over and over ("The Purple Bottle," "Did You See the Words?" and "leaf House" were my top three) but both records felt like they were bundles of bizarre jokes, only a handful of which I got. Because of their tongue-in-cheek cacophony, I was never totally sold.
This album, I'd been told over and over, was one of the best of 2009, and although I'd taken a pass on Strawberry Jam, I decided to see what all those "Best Of" lists had been talking about with MPP. What I discovered was that they were right; although Animal Collective hasn't discarded the playful energy of their sound, they have traded in their baffling weirdness for a more meaningful and touching eccentricity.
The album plays out like one long romp through playgrounds and down rainy city alleys. From the opening track -- "In the Flowers," a blustery praise piece that starts with a slow burn -- it's clear that they've learned how to use just a little restraint to show twice as much heart. Although a few of the songs border on cheesy digi-pop ("Summertime Clothes," "Bluish," and "My Girls"), their complex and infectious effervesence makes them stand out all the more.
As in past albums, they make a lot of use of repetition, but just as you think they're going to stress the limits of the listener's patience, they wickedly alter the pace and pall of each song, keeping themselves and listeners on their tones. It's very much an interactive album.
It's still weird, and likely to confuse and turn off many people. But their warmer and more heart-felt sound is certain to draw more curious ears than their past offerings did. As lovely as it is loony, MPP finally shows the world what Animal Collective can do when they focus less on the animal and more on the collective."