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Album review: Animal Collective's 'Merriweather Post Pavilion'

January 20, 2009 |  4:18 pm

Animalcollective With its eighth studio release, Animal Collective has distilled an album of its purest songs yet. "Merriweather Post Pavilion" shines a light into Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist's subterranean world of labyrinthine freakadelia, banishing some of the ghosts that have haunted it before.

The indie community and some mainstream outlets have celebrated the album with Pentecostal-like fever, which is surprising, considering that "Merriweather Post Pavilion" isn't a new sound for the urban tribalists, only the best iteration to date. It shows how far editing -- and a core group of fanatics -- can take a band.

Certain aural tattoos remain on the New York outfit's collective skin. The banshee wails, the blood-pumping-in-the-ears rhythms, the straight MDMA hits of melody, but Avey Tare and Panda Bear dispense with most of their creepy vocal tics. Instead, they take the breezy harmonies of Panda Bear's 2007 solo outing, "Person Pitch," and stretch, break and blow them out like colorful bulbs of glass.

"My Girls" is a stomping, echo-drenched blast; "Summertime Clothes" is a sweaty, glittery hallucination. Both of them groove with a cool wetness, rivulets of rhythm streaming down their surfaces like water running down a cave's walls.

Animal Collective still struggles with effective counterweights to its euphoric beauty -- the attempt at romance on "Bluish" is off-putting and some of the murkiness can exhaust and undermine -- but it shifts so rapidly, with such conviction, that it's more fun to hunker down and surrender.

--Margaret Wappler

Animal Collective
"Merriweather Post Pavilion"
Domino
Three and a half stars

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