February 14, 2009

animal collective's lovers and haters

Now that the relative backlash surrounding Animal Collective's eighth studio album has subsided, let's forget about what Merriweather Post-Pavillion is or isn't and enjoy the album on its own terms. I am, of course, joking. The ship's out - there's no getting off. AC's latest may just be one of those albums that is simply impossible to listen to on it's own merits. The debate over MPP continues even now, over a month since its official release.

If Animal Collective aren't being blamed for their depoliticized suburban fantasies, they're getting knocked for their good behaviour. While I personally enjoy AC's experiments with atmosphere and expansiveness, there's still plenty of oddness to buffer the trio from unconditional praise. For every moment of elation, there are enough droning synths and washed-out vocals to dampen AC's Brian Wilson-ey euphoria. As on past releases, dub, trance, and Afro-pop figure into Merriweather Post-Pavillion's spaced-out mixture of synths and rhythmic clatter.

It's unrelenting and at times overpowering, but
MPP is also the group's most accessible album to date. And that's where things begin to get a bit unpleasant. Animal Collective are crossing over. Whether it's simply a trek through moderate popularity, adulthood, or something more, I don't know. These days, Animal Collective sounds like its composite parts could be on the verge of a midlife crisis. The drugs still work, and that's part of the problem.

Depending on your outlook (and vanity), there's never been a better (or worse) time to give Animal Collective your attention.

There's been plenty of debate surrounding the album, it's reception and the "meaning" of Animal Collective as a substantial group, whose timely appeal has something to do with their brand of buzz. Plenty of observations come by way of Simon Reynolds at Blissblog, whose speculation lands soberly, right in the middle of the pile (although he's not too thrilled with negative reactions). Yes, listening to MPP is like getting sick on sugar and most reviews of the album are likely to produce a similar effect.
I'm getting a little sick of MPP myself, but right now it's one of the few albums my roommate and I mutually enjoy. And if that's not worth something I don't really know what is.

It's Valentine's Day, so I had to end on a sentimental note.

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