Merriweather Post Pavilion (album)
|Merriweather Post Pavilion|
|Studio album by Animal Collective|
|Released||January 6, 2009|
|Studio||Sweet Tea Recording Studio, Oxford, Mississippi|
|Producer||Ben H. Allen, Animal Collective|
|Animal Collective chronology|
|Singles from Merriweather Post Pavilion|
Merriweather Post Pavilion is the eighth studio album by American experimental pop group Animal Collective, released in January 2009 on Domino Records. It peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the US Top Independent Albums charts. According to review aggregate site Metacritic, Merriweather was the most critically acclaimed album of 2009, and went on to sell a total of 200,000 copies. It spawned the singles "My Girls", "Summertime Clothes" and "Brother Sport", the former of which was named the Best Song of 2009 by Pitchfork and Slant Magazine.
The album is named after the Columbia, Maryland venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion. A plan to perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion after the album's release in 2009 was ultimately discarded, though the band eventually did perform there on July 9, 2011.
After recording Strawberry Jam in January 2007, guitarist Deakin (Josh Dibb) decided he would take time off from the group for undisclosed personal reasons. As a result, the group went about writing a new batch of songs to be played without guitar. Drawing inspiration from Panda Bear's Person Pitch, the band used samplers as its primary instruments. The group debuted nine of these songs, most of which would later appear on the album, in May 2007 and toured with them through 2008.
To record their eighth studio album, Animal Collective sought the services of Ben H. Allen as co-producer. In an interview with the Baltimore City Paper, Allen stated that the band chose him due to "my work with Gnarls Barkley, and wanted my low-end expertise". According to band-member Brian Weitz, while "[t]hat was the original attraction", Animal Collective was also impressed by his eclectic music tastes, "[h]e seemed to be somebody that technically knew how to work in [urban hip-hop], but was open-minded to other styles as well. . . . knowing that he’d been involved in a lot of the Bad Boy Records stuff from the '90s was exciting to us". Subsequently, the band and Allen met over a few conference calls on Skype in January 2008, and began recording on February 1 at Sweet Tea Recording Studio in Oxford, Mississippi.
Privacy during the sessions was paramount for the group, and a significant factor for choosing Sweet Tea. According to Allen, "During the whole month we worked on the album, the only people there were me, my assistant, and the band. No phones or computers. . . . It’s a small town, we were in the South, no one knew who they were. It was nonstop [work]". The studio also offered other advantages; Dave Portner felt Sweet Tea was "the vibiest studio I’ve ever been in. It feels like you’re making music in a living room that just happens to have a Neve 8038 desk in it". Further, since Animal Collective planned to record a sample-heavy album, the studio's large control room was ideal; Weitz stated, "we wanted to do most of the tracking in the same room as the engineer". On Merriweather Post Pavilion, the band wanted to capture a live sound on record, just as it intended to on Strawberry Jam. However, recording methods for the two albums were very different, in Noah Lennox's words, "we went about them in totally opposite ways". While on Strawberry Jam they worked with a live foundation (over which they didn't add too many overdubs), on Merriweather... they "tracked pretty much every sound individually on its own channel, so that we’d have complete control over every sound in the mixing process".
The band adopted a number of unorthodox recording practices. For instance, Animal Collective set up its PA systems in the control room in an attempt to replicate the group's live sound; Weitz said, "since so much of [the album] was electronic and sample-based, we used those PA speakers to make the samples".
The Artwork features an example of illusory motion, a type of optical illusion which is based on the works of Japanese psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka. It was compiled and packaged by Robert Carmichael of SEEN studio, who has worked for Animal Collective before and after.
Merriweather Post Pavilion was announced in a cryptic update to Animal Collective's official website on October 5, 2008, an update which initially caused a great deal of confusion about the nature of the news. The site was updated again on October 8 with a link to a second page showing a video of the track listing, which was followed by an official announcement regarding the nature of the news on October 10. Prior to the album's official release, a number of promotional listening parties were held in various cities across the United States and United Kingdom.
On November 18, the track "Brother Sport" was leaked onto the internet by way of its inclusion in a French music podcast. The track was subsequently posted on many blogs, including Pitchfork, but was later removed virtually everywhere by the international internet policing company Web Sheriff. On November 24, it was incorrectly reported that the band Grizzly Bear had leaked the track through their blog. Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear later clarified that they had only reposted the track as many other blogs had done. A low-quality vinyl rip of the album leaked online on December 25, 2008. 
The album was released on vinyl in the United States on January 6, 2009. It was released on both vinyl and CD in the UK on January 12, and on CD and digitally in the United States on January 20. The album peaked at number 13 on the United States Billboard 200.
|The A.V. Club||A|
|Los Angeles Times|||
Merriweather Post Pavilion was met with universal acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 89, based on 36 reviews. Despite its January release, initial critical response proclaimed it one of the best albums of 2009. Slant Magazine and Uncut gave the album five out of five stars. Stephen Troussé of Uncut wrote that the album "feels like one of the landmark American albums of the century so far." Andrzej Lukowski of Drowned in Sound wrote "Is Merriweather Post Pavilion the flawless album that it's been willed to be? Taken as a whole I'd say it's pretty damn close." Amongst negative reviews, Michael Patrick Brady of The Boston Phoenix gave the album two and a half stars out of four, arguing that the album "lacks the playfulness and spontaneity that endeared so many to this group".
Reviews noted the album is Animal Collective's most accessible, as well as a culmination of their previous work. Many have said it is Animal Collective's most Beach Boys-like album, and in this sense an easier listen than most of their earlier, more avant-garde work. Pitchfork gave the album a 9.6 out of 10 rating, stating the album is "striking in its immediacy and comes across as friendly and welcoming". Later that year, Pitchfork ranked Merriweather Post Pavilion 14 on their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s list and also the Album of the Year for 2009. The A.V. Club called the album a "summation and an expansion of everything Animal Collective has done so far, with a sharper focus on melody and more emboldened vocals that drive the songs." Dave Simpson of The Guardian gave the album four out of five stars, declaring the album sound as "their most 'pop'" and the album itself as "a joyful, transcendent record somehow reminiscent of kids let loose in a musical sandpit." Entertainment Weekly awarded the album an A- stating that although it "won't land the band the opening slot on a Coldplay tour", the album "cleaves closer to Person Pitch's more listener-friendly aesthetic". In their 2009 end of year coverage, UK music magazine Clash named 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' its Album of the Year, publishing an in-depth look at the album and interview with the band's Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear). Spin Magazine ranked it the best album of the year, as did Entertainment Weekly and KEXP. Rolling Stone placed it at 14 on their list. Readers across Canada voted the album the No. 2 experimental and No. 7 electro album of 2009 in Exclaim! magazine. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
|1.||"In the Flowers"||5:22|
|9.||"Lion in a Coma"||4:12|
|10.||"No More Runnin"||4:23|
- Avey Tare – vocals, electronics, samples, keys, guitar, percussion
- Panda Bear – vocals, samples, electronics, percussion
- Geologist – electronics, samples
- Ben Allen – engineering, mixing
- Aaron Ersoy – assistant
|Australian Albums Chart||63|
|Spanish Albums Chart||86|
|UK Albums Chart||26|
|US Billboard 200||13|
|US Top Independent Albums||2|
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