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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

CD Review: Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Domino

 

Rating: 3

 

Experimental rock is probably the biggest umbrella a band can hide under to avoid criticism. Blunt genre labeling is hurtful, so embracing the avant-garde approach to songwriting is an easy method for success in the underground world.

Animal Collective’s brand of experimentation takes a broad approach to music creation. On the first listen one might think there’s way too much going on, and on the second and third spins the listener might not change his mind. Animal Collective piles on layers and layers of electronic sounds to what sounds like an electronic/rock equivalent of a beginning band’s warm-up routine.

Each band member/contributor is clearly trying to influence Animal Collective’s music in his own unique way, which sounds great on paper but ends up turning Merriweather Post Pavilion into a Phil Spectre-approved wall of sound. The end result lacks any discernible melodieslead singer Casper Clausen’s vocals sit on top of a mound of uplifting ambience that never reaches a gathered, unified focus.

It often seems like collectives choose their vocalists by picking the one band member who doesn’t mind singing rather than hiring a real singer. The vocal tracks in Merriweather Post Pavilion sound like drone-ish yelling, which strangely complements their waves of samples and patches.

On the other hand, the electronic sounds Animal Collective uses are both interesting and deep, especially when taken by themselves. But as much as the band members are keen to utilizing novel sounds, it’s hard to appreciate any singular synthesizer pad or effect without being bombarded by even more synthesizers, all while multiple voices shout different words all at the same time.

It’s a bit like a herd of assorted animalsa collective of animals, if you will. They are undoubtedly aware of it.

 

Give these tracks a listen:

My Girls

“Bluish

 

For fans of:

Efterklang

Slaraffenland

 

Justin T. Ho

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