ANIMAL COLLECTIVE Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
Borne into record shops upon a staggeringly positive wave of critical opinion (including, for example, a five star review in Uncut that already posits it as the album of the year and the highest rating Pitchfork have given a new release since Arcade Fire’s “Funeral”), “Merriweather Post Pavilion” would have to be “Pet Sounds”, “The Soft Bulletin” and “Loveless” all rolled into one to avoid being a disappointment. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Certainly, there’s something endearing about Animal Collective’s calliope-like melodies, Wayne Coyne/Jonathan Donahue-style Neil Young tribute vocals and lumpy but wide-eyed almost-blend of psychedelia, electronica and good old cosmic American music. However, there’s so much kitchen sink clutter going on that the songs aren’t always strong enough to shoulder it.
“My Girls” models a diffuse, pointillist melody that seems to cohere from a thousand points of sound, and “Bluish” applies a sharp pop edge to the kind of woozy, hallucinatory ballad that My Bloody Valentine used to be so good at. When they apply their arsenal of trickery to a big stomping pop tune, the resultant “Summertime Clothes” is great, gloriously evoking the spontaneous festivities of an overheated city night. The album’s other fabulous moment is “Brother Sport”, a euphoric banging dance tune turned quirky pop song.
Sonically both the vinyl and the MP3 download bundled with it seem kinda congested, which is no help in unravelling this complex, multi-layered music. Shame, really, as, for all its potential, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” sounds like a bundle of lovely ideas that never really achieve escape velocity.