Animal Collective are much loved by critics and fans alike. Merriweather Post Pavilion was a breakthrough for them and whilst they didn't become the huge act many expected it did increase their currency and notoriety. All of that leaves them with a bit of difficult task in releasing Centipede HZ. As ever AC defy the conventional and expected and come up with a different album altogether that may well divide fans, critics and expectations. This is a collection of tracks that takes time to work and after the instant shock of squelches and technology it reveals melody, sound and inventiveness.
AC albums are all about a feeling, a mood. MPP felt like a warm lazy day on a beach. Centipede HZ feels like being on a spaceship and turning on intergalactic radio. You can't always discern the instrumentation, there are lots of noises and samples (one track finishes with a vocoded cry of Johnny Walker - its not just me that hears that is it?). However, this mess of noise on first listen gradually becomes clearer. The first track that really seeped into my brain was the rather wonderful Today's Supernatural. It is a heady, breathless, joyous number that has the catchy hook of 'Come on let go' at the start of what could in normal terms be called a verse - if such structures exist within AC's world. It also contains the line 'Come on let go the shifting easel.' This brings to mind the shifting style and focus AC embody. Mercury Man startles on first listen but it works well and is a very memorable number. Other stand out tracks include Father Time and Moon Jock. However, this is one album which will reveal more on each listen.
I really need to warn anyone want MPP2 that this is a shock to the senses on first listen. It may not be quite as good as that album either. But it is a challenging, revealing and ultimately rewarding album. However, the real thought you are left with is how very inventive AC are. Yes separately they release good albums too. But together they constantly defy expectations, experiment and come up with a different sound every time. In the days of X Factor, bland boy bands and repetitive RnB this is something to be applauded. AC might not be to everyone's taste. Their music may make you admire them more than love them. However, their constant invention should be a cause for celebration in today's climate.