Merriweather Post Pavilion
Back in January of 2009, a few months before I was about to graduate from high school and begin my career as an undergraduate student at Towson University, Animal Collective released their highly anticipated eighth studio album, entitled Merriweather Post Pavilion. At the time I had never listened to the band and their name only sounded vaguely familiar when brought up in conversation (the very few times that it was). I can't remember what had made me listen to the album in first place, whether it had been the trance-like cover art or hearing part of the primary single "My Girls", but after visiting my local Best Buy and peeling off the shrink wrap, I remember driving home and wondering how I had just wasted my money on an album that was so unlistenable and alienating. Months passed and the album sat in my car until one day I decided that since I had bought the album, I needed to give it at least one full listen. As I sat listening to the opening minutes of "In the Flowers", it meandered along and my short attention span began to wane until the song, seemingly out of nowhere, burst into pure sonic bliss. To this day that section is one of the most enthralling and beautiful pieces of music that I've ever heard. Over the past four years, as my musical taste has changed drastically over and over again, Merriweather Post Pavilion has been an album that I never grow tired of. After listening to the album hundreds upon hundreds of times, my appreciation for it has only grown and I'm always left finding myself amazed at the amount of sounds I had somehow missed on every listen before. At its core, Merriweather Post Pavilion is an album about love, family and friendship, and the joy and pain that these things bring to our lives. On what is undeniably the most popular track on the album (and quite possibly Animal Collective's entire discography), "My Girls", Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) sings how above everything else in life, he wants to do right by his wife and young daughter in the wake of his father's death. On tracks like "Summertime Clothes" and "Bluish" there is a recurring theme of being overwhelmed with the love for another person and becoming lost in the pleasures associated with those feelings. But even though the album has some of the most heartfelt lyrics I've heard, what continues to draw me in time and time again is the layers upon layers of sound that the three band members have managed to create. From the arpeggio of a Roland Juno and the buzz of an SH-101 to samples from the New Guinea rainforest lifted from the album "Bosavi: Rainforest Music of Papua New Guinea" (a major source of samples and melodies found on the album), the band creates something that I still have yet to find anywhere else. Merriweather Post Pavilion has been such a driving force for me throughout my college career, both in the music I listen to and in my artistic style and I can easily say that it is my favorite album and the most treasured piece of music that I own. I feel that everyone, regardless of their musical taste, owes it to themselves to listen to this album at some point in their life and I can only hope that they too find the beauty I've found in this album and the sheer wonder it has provided me over the past four years.