The band you love to hate ... or maybe the band you love to love. Animal Collective is one of the few bands out there that combines daring inventiveness with their own distinctive sound. Most of the love-love reactions and love-hate reactions seem to be rooted more in response to what's seen in the media that what the band actually does itself, reacting to lots of coverage rather than the band itself.
People initially dug Animal Collective because they were new and innovative, then they become one of the dreaded bands that people liked because they thought they were supposed to like them (see Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend et al). Then they became the band that people hated because they were so over Animal Collective, so sick of hearing about them. What did this have to with the music itself? Not much. So we're now in a phase that's the best place for a band to be ... beyond flash in the pan, beyond blog buzz, beyond hate. This is the perfect time for a band to make great music, because no matter how little bands pay attention to these things (even though we know they are), they don't have anything to prove to anyone anymore, they've simply outlasted the love-hate-love thing.
Enter Centipede Hz, their latest album and the follow up to a great album in Merriweather Post Pavilion. Centipede Hz is a battle between listenability and experimentalism, the former being something new to the band and the latter being the best part of the Animal Collective experience. Songs like "Moonjock" and "Today's Supernatural" enter as very listenable but not over-commercial songs, achieving the type of sounds that can break Animal Collective through to a new audience without getting all top 40 on us. Songs like "New Town Burnout" bring the Noah Lennox sound, adding the classic California 60's pop aesthetic.
Animal Collective has always been a live band before a studio band, and at times have struggled to capture the live dynamic and energy in a studio setting. This album makes big strides on that.
I definitely recommend this for anyone who's heard of Animal Collective but never listened to Animal Collective, this is a great pathway into the band's sound. I think that the band set out to make their best music yet and really cranked out a good album. For the Animal Collective diehards living in the post-Merriweather Post Pavilion euphoria, this might be a let down, but it's more of a tossup depending on your point of view. It's hard to satisfy the diehards, and if you've been with the band since Feels then you might not relate to the current AC experience. What Animal Collective does seem to be doing is surviving the passage of time, outliving the critics and producing an album history with a growing, morphing sound.