Pre-Screening: Animal Collective

Album: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Artist: Animal Collective
Label: Domino Records
Due Out: 1/20

First off, I'd like to wish everybody out there reading a happy new year. I'm optimistic about 2009, as I'm sure many of you are. That optimism does not just apply to my own personal life, but this year's new music as well. Tons of bands have new material coming out, and the first of which, on my radar at least, is Animal Collective. Their new record, and eighth studio effort, Merriweather Post Pavillion, is out January 20th.

After 2007's hit, Strawberry Jam, some Animal Collective fans were a bit turned off. Distinct song structures, noticeable choruses and verses- everything was pointing to a new direction for the freak-folk outfit. Enter Merriweather Post Pavillion. Just when you thought you knew what was next, it ends up that, well, you didn't. This album does a great job of going back to the basics of the band, making some real fun noise, while incorporating some pop aspects acquired from past releases, most notably the aforementioned Strawberry Jam. At some points- see: "My Girls"- the record actually becomes dance-able(!). "My Girls" throws down a serious, club-worthy beat, and that's where the pop comes in. I'll just come out and say that this is my favorite track on the record.

Production value, and maybe the broadest array of sounds the band has used to-date, have already made this effort one of my favorites (we'll say it's roughly #4 in my rankings of their albums). Here, you find only highs, no lows. As I said, this album is mostly a pop record, just in the style of Animal Collective, rather than the radio. No "Visiting Friends" or other 10 minutes+ relaxed tracks are present here, but that does not shorten the album in any way. However, it still clocks in at a solid and enjoyable 55 minutes (the band's longest recording since their debut, Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished). I'd love to try and decipher every sound you hear in this record one day. Right now, I most appreciate the use of the organ on "Daily Routine" and didgeridoo on "Lion in a Coma".

So the question begs, "what makes this record interesting enough that I need to rave about it on the first day of the year?" The answer is simple- Animal Collective made an extremely fun record that can be enjoyed by fans both new and old. With every record, they continue to expand their creativity, and this one, of course, is no exception. If you're in the mood for a change of pace, something that never stays the same, or does what you expect it to, then this is the record for you. If you want comparisons, anyone who's heard them knows that Animal Collective is the best comparison to themselves, but besides that, Akron/Family, Grizzly Bear and Panda Bear. Merriweather Post Pavillion is due out January 20th, on Domino Records.

Rating: 9.0/10

Best Track: "My Girls"

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