Album Review: Animal Collective’s “Centipede Hz”

When you listen to Animal Collective’s 9th studio album Centipede Hz you automatically question if it’s a radio transmission from a spaceship thousands of miles away. On the first listen, It’s a collection of songs that seems unworldly and hard to digest, especially as a predecessor from the acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavilion. Coming from an album of that caliber is a hard act for any artist to follow, most artists would use the same formula to guarantee projected commercial success. Animal Collective take an experimental left turn, one that leaves both critics and audiences divided over the artistic direction of the band.

Centipede Hz is challenging record, one that many listeners have trouble absorbing. It’s exploding with sounds and bursting with exuberant textures, which isn’t exactly shocking because it is well… an Animal Collective record. But the one thing that distances Centipede Hz from its predecessors is that samples and electronics aren’t buried underneath the surface of the tracks anymore. They are placed directly in the listeners ear constantly exploding like fireworks on the Fourth of July. While keeping the melodies within the common pop formula, the rhythms are much more abrasive. Tracks such as “Applesauce,” “Today’s Supernatural” and “Moonjock” explode with busy instrumentation while Dave Portner’s vocals thrive through with frenetic energy. Other high points include the glitchy “Monkey Riches,” kicking off with soaring vocals  as electronic elements come full force to the listeners ear and pull away. It’s a track that builds on one chaotic frenzy after another. The album concludes with “Amanita” a track that wraps up the album flawlessly, the last minute and a half is one of most joyful conclusions to any Animal Collective song to date. As it comes winding down Dave Porter lets out an underwater scream that could put goosebumps on anyones skin.

Centipede Hz taps into a sound that many artists haven’t tapped into and are unable to replicate, which regardless of your personal opinion of the record makes Animal Collective one of the most important bands around today. While you continue to try to make up your mind on this and any subsequent AC album, consider what Avey Tare sings in “Applesauce”: “While you think you know, you don’t know what comes next”

-Brennan

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