Thursday, January 22, 2009

Find the words if you can feel the beat

The songs are in my ears but I feel them in my feet. These are cold cold days, but this album glows of heat.

Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective

A beautiful mess executed to perfection. More delightful, moving, engrossing and exhilarating with each listen; I haven't been this sincerely stunned or impressed by an album in quite some time.

Animal Collective put to use years of tweaking their sound and formulate a new sensation with a breathtaking new album, that for this band already seems dated. Animal Collective has always felt alien to me. Often that is not a positive thing to say about a group's craft. Here I mean that sincerely and endearingly. That's the feel they often reach for. They have amazed me for sometime now. Partly for the music they produce and partly for the amount of hysteria they cause. Heralded by some as the most important band music has to offer these days, years ahead of everyone else. Others claim they are void of the ability to write accessible music and they lack structure, trying to overcompensate with oddity. I kinda agree with both camps.

I first hoped on the AC bandwagon not long after Feels was released. You see I cannot resist trying new music and there was such a deafening buzz with that album that it was almost unavoidable. Needless to say I had not idea what to extract from my initial listen. "Was that the worst album I have ever heard, or should I listen to this album 10 mores times right now?" That's the magic of AC, they frustrate just as much as they please me. I love a healthy challenge, and that's what you'll get with their catalogue.

Strawberry Jam was an obvious breakthrough for me. I finally "got it." I guess I should say that I forced Jam on myself, not in a kinky way. I went into that album determined to find a way to fall in love with it. I guess I just wanted to understand and truly appreciate something that was not immediate with me. The music had meaning, difficult to find, but it even has a lot of heart. Stating that music generated almost entirely by computers has heart, well that almost goes against the core of what I love about music. But, I have ceased my relentless struggle to claim the computer is not an instrument. It is 2009 and the computer is not just an instrument, it is now an powerful and awing weapon. Everyone can make music now. Few can make that music sound so amazing as AC.

The difference is that AC is musically brilliant. They know music. They are true students of the craft and sounds. They just refuse to regurgitate what they hear. Instead they digest it, let it settle and when ready allow it to explode back out in the most unexpected of ways.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is a stunning sweep of an album. There are elements of such a myriad of music that it is nearly exhausted to analyze their work. Funk, soul, hip-hop, techno, dance, a-cappella, doo-wop, r&b and a boat load of pop. But it all blends together and sounds nothing like the genres it comes from. It can't be typecast. That's the way it should remain. Bold to say that AC is a genre unto itself? Yes, but damn if they haven't earned it.

I am on my 5th listen of Merriweather as I write this. It's hitting me harder now than it has before, almost scary to think how into this album I may eventually become. It's just so engrossing to me now, and that's brilliant because had I not fought to hear this band it would likely be unlistenable to me at times. I mean that in a good way.

In the Flowers is a true opening cut. At first you don't notice that much has changed with AC. In fact it sounds somewhat most turned down than the tracks of Jam. It's cliche to say, but it feels that Panda Bear was heavy handed in the direction of this album. Soon the song grows, unwinds and the chaos begins.
My Girls is when this album comes to chine for me. This song begins to illustrate a playful, almost dance style to AC. Heavy bass beats, it plays a lot like a club track. It's a fucking tight song. It is so ahead of so many other things you'll hear out there, yet the lyrics are screaming to remind you that AC doesn't want you to think they are so cool. They aren't into being praised, they just need to fulfill themselves by making difficult music that blows expectations away.

My favorite cut is Summertime Clothes. The cleanest and most approachable song on the album. The lyrics paint a brilliant day in the mind of the life of AC. I am such a fan of lyrics saying something direct and simple in a convoluted way, almost saying something completely different then what is intended, but still least to weirdoes like me who blog about this stuff.
Sweet Summer Night and I'm Stripped to my Sheets
Forehead is leaking my AC squeaks
And a voice from the clock says "Your not gonna get tired"
My bed is a pool and my walls are on fire
Soak my head in the sink for a while
It chills my neck and makes me smile
But my bones have to move and my skin's gotta to breathe
You pick up the phone and I'm so relived.

That says something to me. I think those lyrics are incredible. i won't even attempt to explain what going through my head when I hear that, but if I could invite you to see, I surely would send an invitation to all that would care to take a look.

I could go on and on, and at some point later I just might, but for now I'll close in saying that this album is everything it needed to be, it should be and could be.

Try this album and then try it again. When you think I'm not ever gonna get this, go ahead and give it one more chance. It may just knock you off your feet.


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