A Slice of Fried Gold

Best album of 2009?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Animal Collective's super trippy cover to Merriweather Post Pavilion

In college my core group of friends were Erik, Brian, Sobo, Colver, and myself. We were "the guys" and we were pretty much inseparable, regardless of differences. Cutting it down further, you did have polar opposites in many things, specifically when it came to Erik and I, who were far different in many, many views.

However, music was one very major overlap we had early in college. This proceeded on for a while, until we started to diverge, with the two of us staying in the world of more independent and more unknown music but Erik professing in far more experimental sound, with myself sticking with the music that had more pop sensibility to them.

In short, even within our little niche, Erik and I ended up being polar opposites once again, to a degree.

Yet, on January 6th, just barely into 2009, perhaps the best album of the year (yes it's early, but man, it's pretty awesome) was released, along with what could possibly be the Rosetta Stone to finally translate Erik into David, and vice versa. That album? Animal Collective's new album, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

This album has been quickly anointed "best album of the decade" by many blogs out there, even getting a 9.6 from the vaunted Pitchfork scoring system (the greatest rating from them since the Arcade Fire's Funeral - that's how you know it's serious). And you know what? It's overhyped, but only by so much.

It's the ultimate headphone album, as I made sure to roll it out on my iPod with a nice pair of headphones guiding me as I quickly worked on spreadsheets in the office, and within seconds I was enraptured by the layers (and do I mean layers, this album is like five albums structured ever so carefully upon each other) and the sheer feeling this album moved me with. I honestly could feel this music throughout my body, and at times I would cease being able to work because of it pulsating in my ears.

This album is so good, I could hardly function as a human being. That is something I can guarantee I've never said before.

Why is this the Rosetta Stone between Erik and I though? How does this album bridge the gap between our similar but ultimately disparate tastes?

While this album thrives on the layers and the experimental sound it provides (unsurprisingly from an Animal Collective album, a band that in my mind has provided albums in the past that are long in concept but lacking in reality), the reason it is so fantastic is because the songs exist in structures of pure pop sensibility and and a truly accurate representation of the talent within this band, fusing together the genius of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist, and Deakin.

Once again, in short, this album is where Animal Collective becomes the sum of all it's parts. It's what would happen if you took Panda Bear's Person Pitch, a bunch of Bjork albums, a greatest hits of 60's pop, and Animal Collective's discography (besides MPP of course) into a blender, pressed frappe, and listened as you poured it into the world's most perfectly sized cup.

This is a beverage that Erik and I can share and both think "man, I'm glad we both found something we can agree upon."

Listen yourself. While it's still a bit out there for your average listener, with a little adventure in your heart and a nice set of headphones, I feel like you'd agree with us too.


Troy Olson said...

Alright...I've tried to get into Animal Collective before and just could never do it, but the universal love for this album is making feel like I need to give them another shot.

Plus you made the comment that this album is more "real" than their prior ones, so perhaps that also means it is more accessible to someone like me.

So I'm taking your advice and am going to put on my headphones and give this a listen. Results to follow...

David Harper said...

I was with you before this one. I thought that at times they put out good music, but quite often it was directionless and lacking cohesion. This time through is an entirely different story.

Seriously, listen to the first four tracks with headphones on. You'll be convinced of this albums power after that first listen, I swear.

Erik said...

Well said David, well said. I've liked all Animal Collective's previous efforts a good amount, but never thought they were as good as people made them out to be. It seems like they took a huge step forward with this album though. That psychedelic "noise" in their previous albums have turned into psychedelic melody. I don't think this album would have sounded anything like this if Panda Bear hadn't made Person Pitch. I got this the day it came out on vinyl and thought it sounded amazing. Then David told me to play it through headphones........wow........ The lyrics are great as well. The whole album just feels incredibly human and uplifting. I really feel like it connects with the listener.

Erik said...

"My Girls" and "Summertime Clothes" are early favorites.

David Harper said...

My Girls pretty much blows my mind. Seriously, the layers in that song and the transition from bridge to chorus KILLS me every time. I could listen to that song all day every day. Panda is off his ass in that song.

I really agree that it's an increase in Panda Bear's influence on the album that made it stand out so much. I think Avey Tare may have been the more avant garde of the two, and Panda tempers him very well. It's a great album. I may have already listened to it too much, though. Can't get burned out too quick!

David Harper said...

Okay, correction. It wasn't the transition between bridge and chorus, it's in the chorus when he drops:

I don't mean to seem like I care about
material things like a social status
I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls

and then it transitions with an "OH!!!!!!!" and starts the chorus again.

Kills me every single time.

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