Animal Collective has been a mainstay in the indie music scene for a long time now. Composed of David Portner (Avey Tare), Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), Brian Weitz (Geologist), and Josh Dibb (Deakin), the group put out their first album under the collective moniker in 2003. Since then the band has put out a total of six albums, and grown in popularity between each album. Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) saw them at their peak, with radio play across the nation, something new to a band as experimental as themselves.
Three years later the band has followed up their iconic album in true Animal Collective style, by totally changing the recipe. The first major shift in the album is in the inception of it, in that the band decided to come together to write and record the songs in the same location, something that had been replaced by the trading of song ideas through the internet due to the displacement of many of the band members. The other shift was away from Panda Bears vocals, putting the emphasis on Avey Tares brash, shouting vocals.The resulting album is one that is altogether raw. From the harsher vocals to Panda Bear’s shift to a full drum kit, the dreamy floatation of Merriweather Post Pavilion has been turned on its head. The albums lead single Applesauce serves as a great indicator of the change. With it’s catchier, light chorus slowly giving way to increasingly loud cymbal crashes, the similarities stand in stark contrast to the new sound.
The album still features much use of noise and some pretty interesting instrumental choices, and earns the ‘freak folk’ tag many have ascribed to the band. Fans of the artists’ solo work or the bands work pre-Merriweather Post Pavilion are sure to enjoy, but the new vocals and noisy nature of the album could be a deterrent to fans of the bands last album. Personally, the more I listen to it, the better it gets.