Album reviews: Animal Collective adds layers to its confusing sound

Meredith Shea

Animal Collective takes a foreboding approach to its new album, “Centipede Hz.”  The group’s last release, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” in 2009, left fans hungry for more, but whether “Centipede Hz” feeds this hunger is questionable.  Many listeners may not be ready for this experimental psychedelic band hailing from Baltimore.

“Moonjock,” the album’s opener, takes an in-your-face approach clear to the finish line.  First, it knocks the wind out of the listener with a bombardment of explosive sounds.  “In our covered wagon times when dad he had his captain eyes, we’d get the steel horse moving on the straights and lines of 95,” the lyrics say. At first, Avey Tare’s vocals match the punchiness of the background noise, but out of nowhere disturbingly begins working against the song’s repetitive structure.

Still raw, rhythmically mechanized and electronic, Animal Collective doesn’t stray far from its musical roots, but may confuse new listeners.

Nonetheless, this is Animal Collective’s most intricate collection of lyrics to date.  In “Applesauce,” Animal Collective approaches the song with distorted, alien-like sounds, true to the band’s nature.  Tare takes fruit to the extreme with sexual metaphors, singing, “Oh pink lady your days so distinguished are a movement so fluid, so smooth against my palm, reminisce of the days when they all praised your sweet red delicious.”  The listener can’t help but think Tare is screaming out with sexual delight.

Contributing vocalist Panda Bear takes the reins in “New Town Burnout.”  On the surface, it is reminiscent of previous Animal Collective albums.  The track seems to have background noise working against the grain of the song all the way through.  This song is easier to listen to than other tracks like “Wide Eyed,” where there is too much sound happening at once.

Animal Collective closes “Centipede Hz” with “Amanita.” This vortex of menacing guitar, vocals, synth, pulsing drum rolls and the addition of  faint strings that linger underneath the mayhem of sound combine to encompass everything the album set out to be: confusing, but thrilling.

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