84.) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
Animal Collective had become one of those bands that I'd resigned myself to being in the "I just don't get it" camp. They first caught my attention because of some great notices for their 2004 record Sung Tongs, which I bought and quickly filed away.
It wasn't my thing. I was fine with that. I don't have to love everything, you know? But then Panda Bear (one of AC's founding members) released Person Pitch in 2007 and I was enamored. Maybe it was time I gave Animal Collective a fair shake. I knew enough not to delve too much deeper into the catalog and stayed with what was new which, at the time was just Feels. Again, eh. I loved "Grass" and The Purple Bottle", but it didn't possess that intangible that Person Pitch had.
Undeterred, I bought Strawberry Jam and again, mixed results. A strong first half, but a dwindling second (though "Peacebone" and "Fireworks" are pretty close to perfect). I had decided that was it for me and Animal Collective. I didn't dislike them, I just didn't like them enough to justify buying more of their records.
But then I did anyway. Call me a sucker, but sometimes hype just gets me and the early press on Merriweather Post Pavilion was that this was the one. This was the masterpiece people like me have been waiting for Animal Collective to make...and they were right.
They finally got the formula right, a little less weird and a little more melody and Beach Boys inspired harmonies (courtesy of Panda Bear I'm sure). MPP is a record of classic upon classic. from the sublime "My Girls" (perfect amount of "freak folk" thank you very much) through "Summer Clothes" "Bluish" and "Taste" - just not a dud on this record. It was the perfect summer record even though it weirdly came out in January. It just felt right. Like it all came together. The soundscapes created on MPP were staggeringly beautiful and never pretentious.
It's tough to think of Merriweather Post Pavilion without comparing it to Veckatimest (#88 on this list). They're forever linked - two Pet Sounds channeling "freak folk" buzz bands with varying levels of roots in Brooklyn releasing their strongest achievements in the same year with wall to wall glowing notices. I actually toyed with the idea of including these two records on this list as a tie because choosing one over the other didn't seem fair.
But in the end, I chose one over the other and while both records are stunning achievements I've found myself going back to the Animal Collective record more often. I mentioned this in the Veckatimest post as well, MPP gets the nod because it feels looser, like it was more fun to record and, in the end, a tiny bit more fun to listen to. But just a bit. Plus there's the whole "I just want four walls and adobe slats for my girls."
There were four records released in 2009 that I've dubbed the Holy Quadrinity of Indie Rock this year. Four records that came in with a shit ton of buzz and though The Holy Quadrinity was meant to take the piss out of these records, all four achieved stellar heights. They lived up to the hype. Merriweather Post Pavilion and Veckatimest are two of those records. The other two are still to come.
Posted by Pat Driscoll