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The Albums of 2009: Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective

October 17, 2009


In 2007, Animal Collective guitarist Josh “Deakin” Dibb took time off from the experimental indie group, citing personal reasons; as a result, Merriweather Post Pavilion, one of the best albums of 2009, was born. Because of Deakin’s absence, the band was forced to abandon what little acoustic instrumentation they were using and make a nearly complete shift to electronic music. Samplers were the primary instruments, as inspired by band member Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox’s 2007 Person Pitch album.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is easily Animal Collective’s most accessible album, yet it retains their sense of experimentation, as well as their past, more tribal and acoustic influences, which helped to create their initial fan base of dance-and-indie-music-loving hipsters. The best example of this newly found accessibility can be found on the flagship single “My Girls”. From the lyrics to the many sampled layers of atmospheric, head-bouncing sounds, listening to Merriweather Post Pavilion is fun and, more importantly, easier than with past Animal Collective albums.

Despite their apparent focus on a more broadly appealing sound, Animal Collective did not forget to have fun while continuing to expand the definitions of what music can be. If “Brothersport” and “Summertime Clothes” don’t make you jump and dance like crazy, or make you sing your head off in the shower, you need to check your pulse and ask yourself if you’re human. It is as if this band understands human rhythm and energy better than any contemporary band to date.

For Animal Collective, the loss of a guitarist led to significant growth, which led to more accessible work. For listeners, I would say that this is the closest thing to Pet Sounds I have heard: the successful marriage of accessibility and experimentation is evident on both albums and hard to ignore.

I don’t know where Animal Collective will go from here, but it will be hard to top their work in 2009.

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