Monday, September 03, 2012

Kat's Korner: Animal Collective goes instinctual

Kat:   Animal Collective will most likely never be taken seriously and that's no surprise when your names -- Avery Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist -- sound like The Mysterious Benedict Society Visits Pooh Corner.

animal collective
Set to drop tomorrow, Centipede HZ is the ninth album by the group -- "number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine" as John Lennon might put it.  Album seven (Strawberry Jam) was the first to chart in the US, making it to number 72.  The previous album, Merriweather Post Pavillion, made it to number 13 and this should be the break open album, The Joshua Tree, if you will.  Already this year, they've made it to number 8 on the US Sales Singles chart with "Honeycomb" but that's not even on the new album.

What is?

"Applesauce" is track four and it's you at your most f-ed up on your drug of choice trying to navigate a hallway and stopping periodically to get your bearings and balance.  As you stumble, you hear bits of the Beach Boys harmonizing with Rufus Wainwright while the Who goes to town on their instruments and, through the wall, Andy Sumner's playing some of that post-pop punk he's so famous for.  "Rosie Oh" finds them exploring all the styles of the Beatles in just one song. 

Yes, they wear their influences on the cuffs of their sleeves -- like cheat sheets openly flaunted in that joyous manner the Beastie Boys brought to Def Jam and then quickly lost.  Somehow -- and it can't just be drugs -- Animal Collective's managed to keep that joy -- even when the lyrics go darker such as in "Monkey Riches."

But why I am still looking for a golden age?
You tell me that I ought to have a golden wage
Every time I look up at that blurry sun
All I think about are bodies floating up
Everybody ought to get that special glance 
Why does dawn leave everybody home with chance?
It makes me wonder how I even wrote this song
Does this not occur to almost everyone?

 That's actually a minor masterpiece on the album.

"New Town Burnout" -- with its loops, rhythm track and onimous chords -- strives to be the standout and it's a strong song but "Applesauce" is the masterpiece here.

I eat a mango and I feel like a little honey can roll
Star fruit so simple and I feel like a little honey can roll
How could I feel so so when I feel like a little honey can roll
Tart but not total and I feel like a little honey can roll

It sums up the album -- lyrically and musically -- and where the group's at now.  

Centipede HZ may not pick up new fans the way the last two albums have but it's a rewarding experience and one you appreciate even more with each listen.   This is one of the year's finest.