Album of the week:
Album: Animal Collective, Centipede Hz (Domino)
Wild ones are making all the wrong noises
At one point in the track "Applesauce", someone sings the line, "Show me a way I can simplify", and I surely won't be the only listener who at that moment raises an ironic eyebrow; because if ever an album needed simplifying, it's Centipede Hz.
For this follow-up to the acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavilion, guitarist Deakin rejoined the Animal Collective line-up, though his return is possibly less significant in the change of the group's sound here than their return to working as a band together in the same studio, as opposed to using samplers and tracking each sound element individually. This is more obviously the work of a band, with actual drums driving the songs, rather than drum programmes.
Despite that, it's no less cluttered and over-egged than Merriweather, although the outlines of actual songs are occasionally discernible beneath the hubbub of insistent ostinatos, peppery percussion and distracting noise of tracks like "Wide Eyed" and "Rosie Oh". In the latter, it's as if the singer follows one melody while the instruments sail off gaily in several other directions, the song existing at their seemingly random collision-points. And on "New Town Burnout", rather than honing the song to a cutting-edge, every element seems to be trying to distract attention from the song, burying it beneath rattling percussion and whistling synths. To make things worse, an almost constant drizzle of background sound, radio interference, static and wheezing synth noise underscores everything as the songs segue into each other.
It wouldn't be so bad, but the songs are often too routine to merit the attention: "Today's Supernatural", for instance, resembles a conventional US indie song by a group like Weezer, half-hidden by surplus sonic shrubbery.
And while "Monkey Riches" attains a pleasing enough galloping momentum, it appears as much a shock to the band as it does to the listener, the singer wondering out loud "how I ever wrote this song". You can't blame him: while there's some interesting moments to be found here, for the most part Centipede Hz is a fatiguing experience.
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