Animal Collective – 'Centipede Hz' album review

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    Animal Collective – 'Centipede Hz'

    Rating: 3/5

    By Jonny Ensall

    Animal Collective need to make a change. The Baltimore-formed quartet have been paragons of US experimental pop for over a decade. But, as this latest album shows, their schtick is wearing thin. Here again are the tinny electronic effects that sound like they were recorded in the ’70s for an episode of ‘Doctor Who’. Present also are the references to college, along with the hopefulness and high spirits of that era of life. ‘Moonjock’ is the title of the opening song, which sets the scene – this is an album designed to soundtrack the intergalactic high school football matches of the future.

    ‘Centipede Hz’ goes off like a firecracker, with ‘Today’s Supernatural’ kicking up the tempo to rave, and introducing us to the hyperactive vocals that feature across the album. ‘Applesauce’ has some country charm, with a chorus that sounds eerily like The Shins’s ‘Turn a Square’ (but recorded in a bathtub). It’s followed by ‘Wide Eyed’, a ’60s psych rip-off, featuring lyrics – ‘Guiding her into dream time / Following lights in her eyes’ – that George Harrison might have written. These are entertaining-enough songs, but Animal Collective fans expect far more. Of the group’s members it’s Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) whose solo efforts have been the most exciting, and his last album – 2011’s drone-heavy and awkward ‘Tomboy’ – is a more engaging listen than ‘Centipede Hz’. In contrast, the group has pushed the fun and the familiar to the fore, giving the more surreal elements on this album the safe feeling of over-quoted Monty Python sketches.

    Animal Collective ought to be able to crush their contemporaries with their originality, as they always have done. It’s a bit disappointing, therefore, when they produce a record that is only good, and not jaw-droppingly great.

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