Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

January 20, 2009

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably also seen the reviews here, here, here, and especially here.  Well, imho, the album lives up to and then exceeds all those expectatations and hype. Animal Collective are, at least for this moment, like the Beatles, neither overrated nor underrated: everyone thinks they’re the best, and that’s because they are the best.

One aspect of the new album that stands out for me, but which I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere, is that none of the songs contain even a hint of irony, sarcasm, cynicism, or anger. Allusions to the Beach Boys are quite obvious, to the Grateful Dead perhaps slightly less so. But, let’s face it: California in the 1960s was the last place and the last time where songs were written about the American dream that are completely free from those elements of  irony, sarcasm, cynicism, and anger. My preferred variation on the theme raised in the Village Voice review is to say that here, Animal Collective offer up their own version of the American dream, just like Brian Wilson and the Dead did back then in their own different ways.

Who knows? Maybe, two or three years from now, this album will sound dated. But then again, Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville now sounds very much of-a-time/of-a-place, and I still love it. So far, this one by Animal Collective ranks right up there.

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