Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
Animal Collective's ninth record, named after a Maryland concert venue, is grounded in the Floydian tradition of creepy, spooky psychedelia, but the product of modern-day studio trickery — resulting in the most bombastically cohesive album to come around in a long, long time. MPP is about relationships between AC's three players — Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist — in both the musical and lyrical senses. At a glance, it seems like there's a lot of unimportant noise being generated, but it's much more than that. "Summertime Clothes," "In the Flowers" and "Taste" have these delicate, swirling sounds, but also a hard, rhythmic quality that casts the band into a mess of confusion while simultaneously grounding it. Whereas their last two records, Strawberry Jam and Feels, had a more distinct "rock" sound (for lack of a better term), MPP is more worldly, or at least indicates the sound AC strives for is much like M.I.A., in the sense of a post-post-nothing/everything complexity. At the same time, the trio fixates on dissecting their lives as they relate to their loved ones, each other and the material world around them, with "My Girls" and "Bluish" delving into the more romantic, grown-up notions of raising kids and starting a life with someone else. In its bewilderment, this might be the sound of the future now. Because of its ambition, this might be one of the best records of the decade. It won't be for everyone, but it could be in 20 years; right now, it surely sets the bar high for 2009. — Michael D. Ayers
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