Review: Animal Collective

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

It might be hard for Animal Collective devotees to hear this, but the quartet—or perhaps more accurately trio, as guitarist Deakin continues to be absent—is quietly emerging as the preeminent jam band of the 21st century. Its latest is named after the venue where these Baltimore-area Deadheads used to see shows. The Dead was eventually banned from the Pavilion, but the connection holds true: Animal Collective's expansive music is meant to be heard live, and maybe even while a little high.

From the Magic Eye--esque cover art to Panda Bear and Geologist's warbling, trippy electronics, Merriweather Post Pavilion is Animal Collective's most majestic, purely psychedelic effort yet. The album also sees the band continuing in the more accessible, poppy direction of its last disc, Strawberry Jam.

But unlike Phish (the inspiration for this disc's "Taste," perhaps?) and the post--American Beauty Dead, the Collective has made a genuinely important studio album. The call-and-response electro epic "My Girls" might be the band's finest recorded moment; "Daily Routine" is a storefront display for Panda Bear's cherubic vocals; and closer "Brother Sport" could prove to be the first Animal Collective song to spark impromptu dance blowouts. Throughout, the band emphasizes the way words sound rather than what they mean; as repetitive hooks explode into pounding rhythms, these superb tunes beg to be worked out at length onstage.

Animal Collective plays the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center Tue 20 and BoweryBallroom Wed 21.

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