Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion (MPP), which dropped so early in 2009 that we still had unbroken resolutions, has already been called the year’s best album. The buildup began as soon as the four tracks of the Water Curses EP (2008) got old, with the dramatic leak of “Brother Sport” in November, followed by a surprise listening party in Brooklyn, Panda Bear’s promise that it was Animal Collective’s best work to date, and the number of hours it took to decide whether the cover art was actually moving (it’s not!). When they finally got their advanced copies, even the harshest of critics found themselves wishing for more thumbs to put way up.
The day MPP was released was a lot like New Year’s Eve, when sheer pressure to have the absolute best time ever makes it hard to avoid disappointment. Really, the album is not far from what you’d expect of Animal Collective. Manic-depressive mood shifts, achieved with layer upon layer of haunting vocals, synth, reverb and a five-piece band, are almost trance-inducing. They have refined their complex, rough sound, presenting instead a polished if occasionally shallow album that could be called accessible. It is an album that gets better with age and good speakers, but one that does not, and could not, live up to the hype surrounding it.
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland Release Date: January 20 Label: Domino Sounds Like: The Beach Boys go neo-psychedelic Sounds Best When: It’s the first Animal Collective album you’ve heard 99-Cent Budget Choice: “My Girls”