Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Animal Collective -- Merriweather Post Pavilion
Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion is auditory hell. I hesitate to even call it music. What if your head was forced under water while monkeys stood on your shoulders and screamed? This is what it would sound like. What if you took a Beach Boys record, scratched it beyond playability, then dropped the needle on it? This is what it would sound like. Animal Collective's "music" consists of four men constantly shout-singing over each other. They can't really sing, but that doesn't stop them from NEVER SHUTTING UP.
Over the course of Merriweather Post Pavilion's fifty-five minute runtime, you will be hard pressed to find ten straight seconds where Animal Collective aren't barking out noise, "singing" the same exact phrases over and over again. None of them can actually play an instrument, so it sounds like they play a couple of notes on a guitar and filter/sample/treat them and put them into a loop that lasts the entirety of their songs. They find a couple of bass notes and hit those again and again, not in any particular rhythm or pattern, just AGAIN AND AGAIN. As far as percussion or beats, sometimes that happens, I think. Lots of hell noises pop up at random points for no discernible reason.
Lets back up. At the start of 2009, literally weeks in, a huge chunk of music critics(Pitchfork included) called Merriweather Post Pavilion the best album of the year. There were two problems with this statement:
A. It was still January and there were eleven months of releases left.
B. Merriweather Post Pavilion hadn't even come out yet.
This didn't stop music critics from fawning over this album so hard they tripped all over each other and apparently didn't listen to it. Hipsters, who only look at a score from an album review and maybe skim the first paragraph, immediately purchased or illegally downloaded it, listened to the first ten seconds of every track, labeled it a masterpiece, and never listened to it again, immediately moving on to the next thing.
Make no mistake about it. This album isn't good. It isn't even listenable. Getting through the track, "Daily Routine," wasn't a routine for me. It wasn't even a chore. It was torture. So now you listen to it:
Can you explain to me how this is music? Can you even explain to me why someone would voluntarily listen to this? After hearing all the clattering clamor in regard to this album, I noticed it at Best Buy for six bucks, shrugged, and bought it. I've given it almost three years to sink in and I still feel the same way about it: Merriweather Post Pavilion is terrible. Is this it for me? Have I reached that point where I am old and no longer in connection with the cool new things in music? Is my brain too elderly to understand?
No way! I am still months to thirty. That's impossible. The only conclusion is that Animal Collective sucks. Animal Collective sucks. Animal Collective sucks.
I have no possible method to make listening to this album not feel like I am being repeatedly stabbed in the eyes with concentrated supernova beams. That's right: Merriweather Post Pavilion is so bad, it is a detriment to all the senses, not just hearing. I won't even try to describe what I am smelling right now.
Why not just give this album a zero? Well, my Christian bearing forces me to find something to redeem in everything. The intro to "In the Flowers" is interesting. The outro to "My Girls" is kind of fun--this is one of the few songs I can almost say I enjoyed. I actually liked the last twenty seconds of vocals on "Also Frightened," mostly because whatever effect they used almost makes them sound pleasant. If a real band excavated the song underneath "Summertime Clothes," they might be able to make something of it. "Bluish" starts off like it might actually be enjoyable. When I tried to kill myself during "Taste" somebody came into the room and stopped me. When I made a second attempt to kill myself during "Lion in a Coma" my wife unexpectedly called me and told me she loved me, reminding me of all the reasons I have to live. "No More Runnin" actually sounds like Animal Collective doesn't intend to harm the listener's sanity. After 5:59 of "Brother Sport," which is like having the iron maiden shut one last time, Merriweather Post Pavilion ends. After forcing myself to listen to this album ten times, the final straining strains of "Brother Sport" have almost created a Stockholm syndrome situation in my ears--I love it because I know that when I hear it, this horrible, horrible album is almost over.
1. In the Flowers 5:22
2. My Girls 5:40
3. Also Frightened 5:14
4. Summertime Clothes 4:30
5. Daily Routine 5:46
6. Bluish 5:13
7. Guys Eyes 4:30
8. Taste 3:53
9. Lion in a Coma 4:12
10. No More Runnin 4:23
11. Brother Sport 5:59