Animal Collective’s new album elegant, focused

Animal Collective’s ninth studio release, Merriweather Post Pavilion, triumphantly achieves melodic and artful pop elegance through the tinkering of Geologist (Brian Weitz) and the voices, guitars and drums of Avey Tare (David Portner) and Panda Bear (Noah Lennox). Anticipated greatly within the indie realm, leaked tracks and live versions of songs had been widely listened to via YouTube, torrents, and blogs preceding the release of the album. Luckily, the anticipation was merited.

Merriweather feels more focused and purposeful than any previous release from the band, though the songs are still distinctively Animal Collective – vocals that are often indecipherable, harmonies thrown into a electronically psychedelic wonderland and densely crafted songs with a plethora of sounds. It is as though Animal Collective took the best aspects from their greatest songs, made them better, remixed the tracks, and released an album.

Opener “In The Flowers” begins with various dabbles in sound and breezy vocals before ascending into a euphoric chorus. The second track, “My Girls,” starts with a repetitive synthesized sequence, eventually leading into harmonious vocals, handclaps and other odd sounds sprinkled across the electronic background. The Afro-pop influenced “Brother Sport” is another highlight, a celebration of sorts repeating the anthem to “open up your throat.”

Though Merriweather will likely end up on many “Best Of” lists at the end of 2009, it also marks some of the most intriguing music being made in our generation, period.

Rating: 4/4 stars