Like many other Animal Collective fans, I was introduced to the band by way of their album Feels. To be honest, after I first heard it, I don’t recall returning to the album until after Strawberry Jam had come out. Strawberry Jam was an album in which I particularly loved, thus necessitating a return to its predecessor. It was then I realized that “hey, these dudes have like 5 MORE albums before Feels!”, and I became a fan of parts of all of them. I say “parts” because to me Animal Collective albums usually have a way of being great on a track-by-track basis. Until Strawberry Jam, I feel they lacked an entire cohesively great album. Sure they had some killer tracks sprinkled about here and there, but they seemed to stick out like sore thumbs amongst the rest. Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion were large exceptions to this rule. Both albums from start to finish seemed to shine as prime examples of Animal Collective’s best work up until that point. Neither were home to tracks that belonged on anyone’s missed list. Unfortunately with Centipede Hz, it seems that Animal Collective has returned to their former strategy and dropped a few land mines on us.
What we have to remember is that Animal Collective was given the impossible task. With Merriweather Post Pavilion they released an album that fused their experimental brand of psychedelic rock with catchy pop tunes for the first time. There is no denying that it was awesome too. Their fan base probably doubled. “Brother Sport” remains the band’s catchiest song to date, and is hailed by many as their best track. Then they released another EP that featured jams featuring flute ensembles! As a long-time flautist you can see why this made me happy.
Centipede Hz is a far cry from picking up from where they left off, but even with its lowest lows the album as a whole still soars higher than many other albums this year. Upon first hitting play, I thought this album was about to be unstoppable. “Moonjock” kicks the album off with a very abrupt guitar riff that sounds like it either came from an 80’s metal rock band or from a Sleigh Bells album. It is high energy and never lets go. It serves extremely well as an album opener, and is a perfect segue into “Today’s Supernatural”. Although this song has one of the scariest music videos of all time, it should go down as being one the better Animal Collective tracks ever. It is incredibly sporadic and extremely convoluted, just littered with drums, whilst somehow still being completely coherent. It’s like a Christopher Nolan film. It has way too much going on, and shouldn’t structurally or coherently work, yet somehow totally does and has a great payoff. This leads us to one of the biggest letdown tracks of their recent career, “Rosie Oh”. I want to give a good example on just how much this track blows, so for times sake, let me give you the skinny on how the first three tracks:
1. “Moonjack” – the best foreplay you’ve ever experienced
2. “Today’s Supernatural” – The respective orgasm that is a direct payoff from the above foreplay
3. “Rosie Oh” – Michael Bay Movie
Fortunately from here, we are picked back up and brushed off, but the wounds still almost seem to fresh to feel fully recovered. “Applesauce” is fun, playful, and light but still lacks the intensity of the first two tacks. The redeeming quality is towards the end, when Avey Tare does get a little riled up. Which he tends to do a lot in this album. I love it because to me a screaming Avey Tare is a good Avey Tare. But before you know it, Deakin steps back in from his two album hiatus to somehow make heavily percussive and overly ambitious Animal Collective tracks seem drab and boring. It’s like he was jealous that there largest success was an album that came out after he left the band, so he just had to come back and spew his non-talent all over the new album.
^Most terrifying piece of visual media since IT
I feel like with all the pre-stream love Centipede Hz had and especially after the pre-mature evaluations, I kept seeing people say that Animal Collective has returned to their roots with this album. I’d say that is not really the case at all. Sure maybe here and there you hear very distantly similarly sounds, but that’s because they are still the same band that started up in 2000. The only thing I can get behind is that maybe these people are referring to the fact that it is different from their recent albums in the sense that it his home to a few tracks on it that really suck. Which wasn’t the case for their last two albums but is similar to their pre-2005 work.
I will say stylistically this album is almost completely original compared to anything they have done before. This album will take you through quite a range of emotions. You’ll love it , then you will want to pull your hair out, then boredom sets in, then it reverts back to being spectacular. As I said before, you will experience the highest of your Animal Collective highs, and also experience some of the lowest of their recent lows. It’s like a percussive, musically ambitious, bi-polar force. I still can’t stop listening to the album, and I doubt I will anytime soon. It’s worth some good listens, just don’t forget to bring your minesweeper as to spot those landmines. They are worth avoiding.
Can’t Miss: “Moonjock”, “Today’s Supernatural”, “Monkey Riches”
Can’t Hit: “Rosie Oh”, “Wide Eyed”, “Newtown Burnout”, “Pullies”