As the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is set to take place on Tuesday, there is, according to a recent poll, unprecedented optimism greeting him in Washington. Outgoing President George W. Bush leaves the country he governed, begun after a highly questionable first election and ending with the near-collapse of the American economy, in ruins.
Of all the contemporary bands whose sensibility can be traced back to the psychedelic ‘60s, Animal Collective understand more than any that psychedelia is an inherently modernist, not retrogressive, musical ideal, one that absorbs influences across all genres and borders, and interprets them not through analog-tape fetishism, but contemporary technologies. To that end, Merriweather Post Pavilion’s open-hearted lyrical approach — marked by vocalists Avey Tare and Panda Bear’s most sincere, explicit references to love and family — is matched by an expansive backdrop that fuses the band’s ‘60s pop, electronic, Jamaican and West African inspirations into a hypnotic hum that sounds like a thousand ringing slot machines going off in the middle of a warehouse rave. – EYEWEEKLY
In a recent interview, Panda Bear described Merriweather Post Pavilion as Animal Collective’s own form of soul music. “The music is personal to us; not directly autobiographical, but it’s about the things that we think about and care about.” Their concerns on this album are clear: relationships, connections, love, existence. However, to call Animal Collective’s lyrical content simplistic undermines the complexity of the feelings with which they’re dealing; and while their muses are well-worn, the confidence with which they relay this overt sentimentality is simply inspiring. In a time when rhapsody is considered mawkish, it’s refreshing to hear Avey Tare belt out “And I want to walk around with you” without poetic distancing or Panda Bear singing “What can I do as traffic pass/ Guard my girl from muffler’s black gas” without irony. Animal Collective subsume art and life, not because they can, but because they don’t make any clear distinctions between the two. – Tiny Mix Tapes