AC1: Merriweather Post Pavilion

7 03 2009

merriweatherTo start off with I should say that I’m new to Animal Collective and I also don’t have a lot of listening experience within whatever genre Animal Collective fits, so bear that in mind as you read my review. However, I did enjoy Merriweather Post Pavilion.
First thing I want to say about the album is that the album artwork is remarkable. It is a veritable feast for the eyes; very colorful and unique.
Now as I get to the music I need to add another little preface here. When I listen to new music for the first few times the lyrical content plays very little into how much I enjoy the music. For me the voice is first, an instrument and second, a storyteller. Eventually the lyrics become important to me, but initially I have a hard time paying attention to what is actually being said. While I’m trying to learn to pay more attention to the lyrics, for now this is the way it is and my review will reflect that.
Okay. What struck me about MPP was the complexity of the music. Every song had a lot going on in it, which could have been disastrous, but in this case Animal Collective definitely appeared to have the talent to make every piece of the music belong where it was at. My favorite song of the album, My Girls, was an excellent example of this complexity. And in this song it was also quite transparent. The song begins with little instrumentation and gradually adds more and more layers of music with each layer contributing to rather than detracting from the experience of the song. Excellent song.
As Randal noted, the album was very electronic and yet very real and earthy. I use the adjective earthy because, for me, the music often inspired some very beautiful natural imagery. For example, in In The Flowers the music caused me to imagine myself exploring some sort of swampy wilderness on a starry night. Call me weird, but I like when a song evokes something in me. Several of the songs incorporated an effect that sounded like water dripping in a cave. And Lion In A Coma had some didgeridoo in it and didgeridoo always says nature to me.
In all there were some fun songs, some reflective songs, some very melodic songs, some songs that were a little too long and repetitive for me, and some songs whose combination of sounds, while skillfully produced, I did not find particularly enjoyable. My favorites were My Girls, it was very melodic and creative; Summertime Clothes, it made me happy; Bluish, the vocals stood out to me in this one; Lion In A Coma, fun song, made me happy; and No More Runnin’, lots of emotion and a very melodic and memorable chorus.
In summary, the positive points included the mostly complex and melodic music, plenty of enjoyable songs, great album artwork, and great musical imagery. The negative points included some songs whose parts didn’t fit together as well as I would have liked, some songs that were overly repetitive and the fact that, in general, the album departed from my typical musical genre preferences. Perhaps that last point seems unfair but, like it or not, the degree of enjoyment I experience is greatly influenced by the degree of departure I perceive from my typical musical cuisine. But overall, I enjoyed Merriweather Post Pavilion and give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

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