Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
Band's signature sound coralled into bright, structured bursts of glistening euporia in brilliant new album
Animal Collective have lost the ability to truly surprise the listener, but they can still enthral. As their sound has evolved, the band has smoothed off their more experimental edges and embraced a more linear sonic narrative, shedding fans drawn to their early, outer limits psychedelic vanguardism, and recruiting a following lured by melody and songcraft. The shift continues on Centipede Hz, the group’s first album since their breakout, 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, and the first to feature all four band members, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin, since 2007’s Strawberry Jam.
This ongoing trade off of the avant garde for the accessible still strikes more of as an act of pragmatism that a dogmatic shift in ideals: the signature tropes of the Animal Collective sound – the layered vocals, the polyrhythmic flourishes, the charged, pop-psych phantasmagoria – are no longer feral, but corralled into bright, structured bursts of glistening euphoria. After MPP the band could have retreated to their offbeat hatchery and returned to their roots of wilful compositional free-wheeling. They did not. Instead they reunited, refocused and continued to channel their cornucopia of ideas into an egalitarian, fully realised, unabashed collection of big tunes. Lucky us are the beneficiaries.