Tuesday night, a few dozen journalists and fortunate fans braved inclement weather to get a first listen to Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, due January 20th on Domino Records. On first listen, the band’s eighth studio album proved less linear and immediately accessible than last year’s Strawberry Jam, and more in line with their recent, more atmospheric Water Curses EP.
Merriweather is the soundtrack for the ultimate hippie/ambient tribal dance party, a giddy, freewheeling, psychedelic beast of an album, full of big beats, trippy drones and glistening synths dancing around the band’s rich, reverb-drenched, fugue-like vocal layers. (That’s the album’s equally tripped-out cover above.) From opening track “In the Flowers,” where dreamy swirls of guitar explode into an avalanche of battering-ram percussion, to closing cut “Brother Sport,” whose sunny vocals and gleeful synthesizers skitter across syncopated grooves before mutating into minimalist ambient-house, this is an album of endless sonic surprises. While tracks like the low-key “No More Runnin’ ” are more conventionally song-oriented, the focus here is on constantly shifting textures and moods, like the central riff of “Daily Routine,” which sounds like a bowling ball being thrown for a strike across the keys of an organ, or the moment on “Guys Eyes” that suggests nothing so much as a backwards loop of a piano being dropped from the roof of a monastery.
Merriweather Post Pavilion track list:
“In the Flowers”
“Lion in a Coma”
“No More Runnin’ “