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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion

Rating: 9.4/10 ?

February 16, 2009
Kaleidoscopic is a term that seems to come up in reviews more and more often these days. Sometimes it's applicable and sometimes it's just the flagrant use of a buzzword by a critic who longs to run with the herd. But with the release of Animal Collective's newest album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, one can't shake the feeling that that "kaleidoscopic" is a term that, until now, has always been misused.

And while the venerable quartet have always made their meals with disorienting pop sounds, be it the jarring noise attacks of earlier albums like Here Comes the Indian or the swirling acid-folk of the band's breakthrough, Sung Tongs, recent years have found the band exploring a form of kaleidoscopic (sic) electronic pop that both manages to push their collective vision forward and solidify exactly what that vision is. To date, their vision has not always been something that Animal Collective have been perfectly clear on, but the group seems to have settled on a specific identity for at least the last couple of releases. The decided-upon vision seems to be one that incorporates all of their previous incarnations and styles in a whirling cacophony that is unmistakably that of a singularly creative approach, instead of moving from one style to the next as their breakneck series of albums, starting with Here Comes the Indian and ending in Feels, were wont to do.

From the start Merriweather Post Pavilion is more extreme and more conservative (which is something you'll notice every time you try to describe it - the contrasting opinion will often be true as well) than the band's early forays and, somehow, manages to be both at the same time. The sound of this record will please fans of Animal Collective's more recent releases more than it will long term followers; a band with such a meandering history is invariably followed by fans of differing demographics, with Strawberry Jam having seemed to be a divisive release across the board, especially in the wake of the more immediately palatable Person Pitch release by Panda Bear. We have a song with Avey Tare (Dave Portner) vocally reaching for the same existential bodily release before "In the Flowers" explodes into a flurry of drumbeats and sampled guitar and keyboards. Lyrically Portner's mining the same ground as he did on Strawberry Jam, but with more effectiveness: as the melody begins to unfold you notice less in the way of missteps or awkward stream of consciousness. Some of the band's fans are bound to cringe.

Taken as a whole, however, the album flows remarkably well. "My Girls," sure to be a standout, as most of Panda Bear's straightforward, open-throated songs tend to be (see "Derek" on the last one), segues perfectly into the loss-of-innocence tune "Also Frightened," which in turn stomps right into the "Reverend Green"-esque (in placement and in it's grinding aural qualities- despite it's sweeter vocal approach) "Summertime Clothes." The band sounds fuller and more realized using straight piano, and instead of the murky psychedelia of, for example, "Seal Eying," we get a propulsive, jittery piano based tune in "Guys Eyes."

Throughout Merriweather Post Pavilion the band mixes instrumentation and samples and voices in a way that seems to be an advanced or accelerated development of past triumphs. By the time they instruct you to "Open up your throats," in closer "Brothersport," you're either with them or your not. And it's okay if you're not; anything this defiantly creative and unique is bound to create strong opinions good and bad, and as their best album to date, that divisive quality is more concentrated that ever before.

Reviewed by Cory Tendering
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Cory Tendering



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