Despite being released in January, Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion is still being talked about, and will easily top almost every single one of the upcoming "Best of '09" lists tentatively due out next month. And for good reason. MPP defied expectations, and simultaneously defined and expanded the sound of a band that appears to wear the metaphorical crown of Indie.
So to follow up such a masterpiece with a five song EP where the first track transforms into a full-on Hobbit dance-fest? Madness? Ingeniousness? In Animal Collective's case, I'm going to have to go with both. This is a band who tries out every idea the conceive without ever looking back. And time and time again these ideas that sound so failure prone on paper just seem to work. Can you imagine a band deciding to suddenly switch a song that has been swirling away in its psychedelic tapestry and spaced out vocals to an upbeat, PanFlute jig? No, neither can I.
This first track 'Graze', despite shocking at first, turns into such a wonderfully bizarre yet uplifting track and is an unexpected EP highlight. But it pales in comparison to the second track, 'What Would I Want? Sky.' Beginning with that trademark Collective washed-out sound of electronic scrapings and rolling looped vocals chanting 'Believe", then transforms into the warmest and most likable song of the album, and is one of my favourite Animal Collective tracks.
The rest of the five tracks don't quite match this peak but that is not to say they are terrible. 'Bleed' feels more foggy and intermission-like than a song, while 'On A Highway' is a slowed down lamentation on touring. The closer 'I Think I Can' is a long one (just over seven minutes) and it brings back the bouncing warmness of the second track, to its success.
Being the second outstanding release this year by the band, we have evidently found them at a creative and artistic peak, and us hardcore and casual Animal Collective fans alike are more than happy to enjoy the view and snapshots taken with them.
Standouts: Graze, What Would I Want? Sky, I Think I Can