Merriweather Post Pavilion
There are precious moments that stand out in a life of indie glory. They are countless or few, mostly depending on your memory. There were two times when, temporarily paralyzed, I couldn’t get out of my car until the song on the radio ended; I know the tracks well to this day. Other events were as striking, like the time a college friend (whose brother had previously lived next door to the bizarre, mostly unknown Animal Collective foursome) stuck Sung Tongs into my stereo and said, “Just sit here.” We sat, staring at one another, and it would have been an unremarkable day were the rumblings of freak folk to come not matching the beats of my heart.
Animal Collective is the most ingenious band of the new millennium or the one you find most obnoxious. The woodsy quartet has only improved in the last few years, which is any fan’s praise but also a serious statement about moving from making under-the-radar releases and beyond critical acclaim into a comfortably innovative career. Despite the fact that Deakin (Josh Dibb) is absent from this album, the boys sound more in sync than ever, if that’s even possible. Their cohesion sounds particularly ripe with springtime on the way. Named for a Maryland venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion makes me mentally gear up for outdoor festivals.
The album’s second single ("Brother Sport" was technically first, with live recordings leaked onto the Internet in early 2008) is the rambunctious "My Girls," on which Panda Bear (nee Noah Lennox) sings, "I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things, like a social status/I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls." While I may not generally be into the patriarchal caretaker role, the last thing this album brings to mind is overzealous consumption, and really, all the Panda wants is a nice cozy home for the family—spouse and daughter. At least he’s not a deadbeat, right? Who doesn’t want a snug home base, especially when you tour as much as these guys?
"Summertime Clothes," an equally exuberant dance-worthy, drum-heavy number, sounds as though it could have been a Grass b-side, only to be shelved and reworked for Merriweather. Compared to its most recent predecessor, the Water Curses EP, which sounded as though it was recorded underwater, Merriweather seems to have emerged to dry off in the jungle, the band performing among a range of organic tweets and screeches.
If you have the opportunity—because that’s exactly what it is—go watch Avery Tare (David Portner) and Panda Bear dance manically around the stage, Geologist (Brian Weitz) bouncing side to side with that caving lamp on his forehead, as if expecting to discover precious metals on his keyboard. He may not show you what he finds, but you'll sure hear it when inspiration strikes.