1. Amazingly, as everyone absurdly predicted at the time of its release, this is the best album of 2009.
2. This is something that never gets brought up, but Animal Collective really do deserve some credit for hoping so many styles between albums: the freak folk of Sung Tongs, the calm folk of Feels, the movement towards electronic in Strawberry Jam, adding Beach Boys harmonies in Merriweather Post Pavilion. Which, in part, makes Centipede Hz all the worse: it was a stylistic regression from a band that’s more or less been positively evolving from the start.
3. I thought a lot about the above statement, going from this to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix to Veckatimest to The xx to etc. (always an indie record, because that’s the year where indie won, so to speak), but I always returned to Merriweather Post Pavilion.
4. And it’s because this album’s a trip. Not a druggy trip like previous Animal Collective albums or like a druggy trip that a lot of bros want it to be (not to say it can’t be). But a romantic trip (the cover reminds me of rain, which, according to every Nicholas Sparks book/movie adaptation, is the place to be with a lady), with a sexual detour in the middle (“Bluish”; guess what they mean when they sing “I’m getting lost in your curls”? It’s cunnilingus) that ends with a house party jam for your jamz playlist. They’ve been moving towards this kind of friendliness with every record since Feels (but especially with the open-armed lyrics of Person Pitch), and with Merriweather Post Pavilion, they finally achieved it; no more shredding your vocal cords, Avey Tare. After this, they decided that friendliness and romance was overrated, and made a really unfriendly and unsexy record.
5. Unsurprisingly, Animal Collective lyrics have always been quotable. Unsurprisingly, because they strike me as a bunch of stoners. Surprisingly, Animal Collective lyrics from 2007-onwards (and before 2012) are sometimes even likeable. Surprisingly, because they strike me as a bunch of stoners. But here’s a few from three of the album’s best songs:
~”If I could just leave my body for the night,
Then we could be dancing
No more missing you while I’m gone
There we could be dancing,
And you’d smile and say, “I like this song”
And when our eyes will meet there
We will recognize nothing’s wrong
And I wouldn’t feel so selfish
I won’t be this way very long”
~”I don’t mean to seem like I
Care about material things,
Like a social status,
I just want
Four walls and adobe slabs/slats
For my girls”
~”Soak my head in the sink for a while
Chills on my neck and it makes me smile but
My bones have to move and my skin’s gotta breathe
You pick up the phone and I’m so relieved”
6. Who cares if they’re singing “adobe slats” or “adobe slabs?”
7. Two fine moments, one from each of the two opening songs, both of which have well-constructed build-ups and are wonderfully euphoric once they achieve climax (this is contrast to previous songs on Feels where the build-up was longer and not nearly as captivating):
~The obvious explosion in “In the Flowers” at the 2:30 mark; an orchestra of synths pretending to be strings to capture the dream of someone dancing with his loved one on a field of grass with no one there to see or judge.
~”I just want FOUR WALLS AND ADOBE SLABS/SLATS FOR MY GIRRRRLS AOUHHHHHH!”
8. Like every other Animal Collective, there’s filler: I can get used to the annoying ping-pong synths of “Lion in a Coma” once the track gets going, but I understand if others cover their ears from said synths. Elsewhere, I can’t get used to the annoying see-saw vocal interval of “Taste” regardless once the track gets going and the vocal harmonies kick in (nice drum-rolls to push it along as well). But this is their best album because the highs are higher than ever, and the lows feel congruous with the album’s aforementioned trip.
9. My favorite song here is “Summertime Clothes.” The intro sounds like the cover; it takes the synth orchestra in the climax of “In the Flowers” and stretches them across the entire song (one big fucking climax, in other words); the handclaps of the choruses are joyful; the lyrics are super-lovely, and not just the afore-quoted ones, but literally almost all of them, except the one that evokes trash; the dual vocals in the alternating lines makes it just as anthemic as “My Girls.” Fantastic how they manage to do a screeching halt to “Don’t cool off, I like your warmth” (another great lyric!) and jump right back into the water without losing any momentum.
10. I’m pretty sure “Brother Sport” is about a blowjob.