At this point in their 13 year career you either are enamored with the band or repulsed by them. There really isn’t a grey area with Animal Collective as they have been pushing musical boundaries since their inception and the latest Centipede Hz is no exception.
Billed as a wall of noise or a conglomerate of blips, bangs and odd frequencies the collective (now with 100% more Deakin) left the pop/groove sensibilities of Merriweather pretty far behind them. Small remnants are left and are apparent in the opener Moonjock as the chaotic verse with pulsing notes opens up to a floaty chorus. The song is constantly balanced on the middle of a see saw (ironic that the see saw is alluded to in the following track), every time you reach for the next track button it yanks you back in. The question you have to ask yourself is if you are ready to open your mind to a new sonic adventure?
Easily dismissed as a conflicted mess of noise Centipede Hz is an album best listened to multiple times before you give up on it or love it. The repeated visits allow you to pick through the layers and find something to hold on to for the ride. Take for example the albums first single Today’s Supernatural which is also the albums best track. The song has a heavily phased intro and is overwhelming, but it is a catchy song and Avey’s “Come on Let Let Let Go” will get caught in your head before you know it.
This is a very Avey Tare centric album much like Spirit They’re Gone Spirit, They’re Vanished and Avey has separated himself as the strongest contributor to the group. The Panda Bear sung tracks would be b-sides on his solo records and serve more as a break from Avey’s intense style than as proper tracks. Panda Bear is back to his old tricks on Rosie Oh and New Town Burnout letting his voice repeat to the point of drone on Rosie and syncopating his voice with the beats in New Town, this sounds more like Lennox is perfectly fine with sameness. New Town Burnout wears thin 4 minutes into the song lucky for the listener an Avey song is up next.
The song I was most excited to hear was the Deakin sung Wide Eyed and it is also the most disappointing. Deakin’s monotone voice does not work with the rolling romp of a tune. He sounds flat throughout most of the song especially when he sings the title line, but this is just a small scar on an all together strong outing.
I can’t say it enough that this is Avey’s band and this album proves it. He has come into his own as a unique, gifted song writer that has evolved with each release (A.C. and solo). The albums closer Amanita exemplifies Avey using some of his standard sounds and tones but also shifting from dark to psycidelic at a blink. The title is a genus of mushrooms that include many known to be toxic and helps put you in the odd world which this song is written from. The climax of the song has you spiraling through the deep space scene at the end of Kubrick’s 2001 as Avey sings “I’m gonna come back and things will be different. I’m gonna bring back some stories and games”.
Animal Collective almost always meets or exceeds the lofty expectations hurled upon them (by some of the most forgiving fans in the world) and they accomplish it by never making the same album twice. Granted you hear moments of previous efforts such as Applesauce which would fit nicely on Strawberry Jam, but it is also more dense than anything on that album. Never happy with stasis you have to appreciate a lot of different types of music to truly wrap yourself up in the band and for most of us that is perfectly fine.
Score – 8.5/10
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