Sprawling, rich in lyrical brilliance, sample-heavy and a true “pop” record, Merriweather Post Pavilion produced three,bouncing, even radio-friendly songs in the catchy-as-fuck “My Girls,” “Summertime Clothes,” a romp about exploring the joys of being a free soul in the intense summer heat, and “Brother Sport,” an oddly upbeat number about dealing with the death of Panda Bear’s father. More than anything, Merriweather does the best job at capturing its audience immediately, focusing it’s priorities on something kids could really groove to. Other brilliant releases in 2009 included the wildly popular mainstream crossover Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (byFrench band Phoenix) and head-bopping Veckatimest, an upbeat response from brooders Grizzly Bear. What sets Merriweather apart, really, is its progression from start to finish, with deliberate highs and lows and a phaser set to stun from the first shimmer of “In The Flowers” to the final bass-drum-kick of “Brother Sport.” No other release had encompassed a band’s true potential like Merriweather Post Pavilion does with Animal Collective. On top of all that, it’s damn fun to listen to.
After this release, the shocked (not really) indie community really began to wonder just how this band would follow up a career-defining album. The true cynics chirped that it couldn’t be done, the critics began to issue “what if” blog posts, and the dissenters still really could give a fuck. For whatever, reason,this album has left such a lasting impression on how music is made and is still considered a noisy mess by a large chunk of otherwise savvy music lovers. In a response to a call that was never really made, as the world was still reeling over the album-of-the-year-released-in-January, Animal Collective issued the Fall Be Kind EP, which had a distinct impression as an addendum to their other release that year. And it also didn’t.
The EP’s lead single, “What Would I Want? Sky,” was a sprawling experiment in drone, and the EP also contained the first legally approved sample of a Grateful Dead song, in “Unbroken Chain.” This is not as surprising as how strong the song is lyrically, especially among the criticism that the band could still not follow up their last release with anything worth listening to (a “tenth-album slump?” Please.) For example:
Do I float up up up? When I stop and look around me
Grey is where that color should be
What is the right way?
The lyrics are deliberately hazy and wanton but also shrouded in metaphor. What does grey stand for in this instance?
The concept of the band “Animal Collective” is not something that should surprise anyone in 2011;during a slew of live performances (after a much dormant and deserved 2010) the band has begun to debut new material, which has a meandering and drone-y sound, much reminiscent of older works. Undoubtedly, the finished songs will sound nothing like these demos, but the fact that audiences even cling to them, let alone have patience for them, is a true testament to Animal Collective’s legacy as the 2000s most divisive rock band. And still the dissenters could give two flying fucks.