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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Animal Collective is still for the fans on Centipede Hz


    It’s safe to say that on some level, Animal Collective has always been about a kind of communion with nature. Sure, the presence of floral and fauna has historically been more explicit on some releases than others, but even for an album like 2009’s breakout-hit Merriweather Post Pavilion which utilized synthesizers and samples to a greater extent than ever before, the band has chosen time and time again to paint fields and forests with their sound rather than cities and spaceships. For all it’s chaotic radio snippets and buzzy arrangements, Centipede Hz still manages a kind of naturalism through the band’s return to traditional rock instrumentation, a connection reinforced by drummer/part-time singer Panda Bear’s insistent and at times obnoxious live drum beats that march like a pulse through nearly every track on here. Yet there’s also something about oddly distant about Animal Collective this time around.

    Perhaps it’s just a testament to the seemingly ever-increasing prominence of Animal Collective, but the gap between their unique and variable brand of songwriting and what the rest of the indie world is doing seems to grow narrower every day, and consequently the familiar nervous harmonies and exploding climax that feature on Centipede opener “Moonjock” don’t quite hit as hard as they did on albums previous. In fact songs like “Moonjock” and “Applesauce” feature such an abundance of sheer sound going on that one of the band’s most valuable assets, Avey Tare’s sublime yelp of a voice, gets lost amongst the jungle of noise vying constantly with Panda Bear’s primal drumming. Thankfully there appears to be no end in sight for Avey and Panda’s excellent knacks for melody, so even the more by-the-numbers Animal Collective tracks on here like “Pulleys” and “Father Time” have rapturous moments of memorable hooks. Elsewhere Animal Collective gets downright spiritual in the feeling of their music, with the Avey-sung “Today’s Supernatural” and Panda’s “New Town Burnout” both riding along loping, meditative rhythms that groove enough to make room for feverous proselytizing and winsome prayer respectively.

    As it does with every Animal Collective record, though, the naturalistic rhythms and wild energy takes the forefront on Centipede Hz, though not in the way one might expect. Where albums like Merriweather and the older Here Comes The Indian almost seem to draw on the energy and sentiment of a particular season to offer the listener with a kind of warmth of familiarity amongst the near-unintelligible excitement, this new record superimposes primal screaming and rhythm onto a backdrop of feedback and cluttered noise.

    Reunited on this album with founding member Deakin, Animal Collective proves itself completely capable of filling out their already sparkling sound even further on tracks like “Monkey Riches,” truly a highlight of the record that finds Avey having something of a breakdown amongst the trees while shouting “I want to knock you down.” The song’s true curiosity, though, is how it seems to encourage the disorientingly urban squeals and shine while holding steadfastly to the band’s historic love of prominent rhythmic shifts and naturalistic feel. While at times the ubiquitous noise encroaches a bit too much upon the band’s natural gift for melody and arrangement, Centipede Hz proves to be worth repeat listens for any Animal Collective fan.

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