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20 Watts Best of 2009 #1: Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion by jluposello

Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion is #1 on our Best of 2009 List

PREVIEW: VISIT Animal Collective’s MySpace
TOP TRACK: “Brother Sport

After eight studio releases, it’s safe to say that Baltimore’s Animal Collective have hit their pinnacle on 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. Following 2007’s Strawberry Jam, guitarist Josh Gibb went on hiatus for “personal reasons,” pushing the rest of the band back into the studio to record a batch of songs to be performed without guitar.

The result is the unmistakably synth-heavy construction of Merriweather Post Pavilion. Upon dropping from Domino Records in January, the album met instant critical acclaim, hailing praise from the scene as one of the best of the year. We couldn’t agree more.

While the record feature’s a distinctly “poppy” sound from the Maryland natives, it also possesses an inherent appeal in it’s more visceral pleasures. Vocalists David Portner (a.k.a. Avey Tare) and Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear) reach a dynamic untouched by their previous efforts.

The theme of the record is one based on basic human needs and desires, giving the album an undoubtedly cohesive feel. Each song builds on the exceptional qualities of the one that came before it, shattering the concept of “Oh, this is my favorite song on the album!” quite well.

It’s tough to deny the exceptional writing on the album, regardless of your musical tastes. The synth-heavy questions of life appeal to the rave junkie and neo-hippy alike, and summarize the album marvelously. It’s as though Animal Collective were telling us that sometimes, to get to where you’re supposed to be, you need to go back to square one. And yes, even if it takes you eight albums to do it.

— John Luposello

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