Animal Collective Maxes-Out Party On “Hz”
If you thought Merriweather Post Pavillion was Animal Collective’s most bombastic adventure yet, Centipede Hz will make you rethink that. However, whereas some publications have taken issues with that aspect of the album, I find comfort in that. After a long journey which truly got rolling with Feels (still a wonderful piece of freak-folk oddness), Animal Collective has combined the best of their eccentricities with a persistent thump in the subwoofers.
Album opener “Moonjock” makes even the most aggressive tracks of Animal Collective’s past sound like a warm up. The crackle of a harsh drum-machine thunders in like Godzilla walking into a drum circle. It’s abrasive until the handclaps and Avey Tare’s spastic (but somehow soothing) voice carry the tune. It’s such a new type of song for the band that if there weren’t any vox or the screwball sound effects shooting in the background, you might mistake it for an industrial rock instrumental.
What kind of Animal Collective album would it be without a childlike (not childish…note the difference) song like “Applesauce?” Tare’s vocal melodies seem to clash so obviously with the song on first listen; but like most things Animal Collective, you’re soon converted to the theory that these guys know what they’re doing. They’ve got dog-ears for pitch and sonics that most of us can’t imagine.
Elsewhere, the band gets more straightforward with melodies and their futuristic production. “Wide Eyed” rides along a boom-bap beat that gets punctuated by a curious synth sample. I won’t even attempt to finger what it is that makes half of the sounds on Centipede Hz, and some of that may be attributed to the return of Deakin. This is the first time the band has been a quartet is over four years, and his presence is felt in the catchy chaos of the production.
If you’re looking for the one psyche-gem on here that’s still bordering on pop, look no further than the Panda Bear penned “New Town Burnout.” Over six minutes, we’re given something close to Feels, Tomboy, and Merriweather all at once.
If there’s one thing I agree with other publications about, it’s that the band seems to have exacerbated this particular nook of its sound. The maximalist liberties they’ve taken are bordering on pop, and Animal Collective isn’t meant for that realm of stardom. While Centipede is indeed another interesting walk through the heads of Animal Collective, I’d like them to take me elsewhere in four years from now.