With Centipede Hz, Animal Collective have delivered a cluttered, abrasive album that confirms their naysayers' exaggerated perceptions of the band. But even a patchy Animal Collective album yields several exceptional songs. It's a song that seems to acknowledge Animal Collective's unlikely position as a phenomenon, before busting open an escape hatch from a world of scrutiny and expectation. As it shifts into its giddy, double-timed denouement, Avey excitedly chants, "What are you gonna do/ Go into the forest/ Until I can't remember my name!"
With Centipede Hz, experimental music outfit Animal Collective is following its poppiest album, 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion, with one of its most hectic. The problem with Centipede Hz is that there’s just no room for the listener’s own imagination, rendering it a difficult album to connect with.
Animal Collective are determined to overwhelm you. They do it with an unrelenting sound that mixes and matches genres with absurd speed and impeccable craft. Their music is a maze that is difficult to escape once you're submerged in the mix. "Applesauce" is simply insane, a manic panic that screams about fruit. Wide Eyed" tightens up before loosening into a Magical Mystery Tour of psychedelic tones and elliptical drum circle dance grooves that are set up to trip anyone who dares to dance. Tempo shifts, key changes, ambient textures, pop rock tropes, hummable melodies.
Expectations for a similarly brilliant follow-up were bound to be huge, but the band's mercurial approach would never allow for any album to sound too much like the last. Also returning to the fold is longtime contributor Josh Dibb (aka Deakin), who sat out the last album entirely
Centipede HZ is a reaffirmation. It reminds us that Animal Collective plays interactive, now and forever. They named an album after their favourite music venue, and now after dirt and video games. They were our seasonal band, as far as the endless arguments over whether we listened to them in summer or winter. With Centipede HZ, things like textures and tight constructions are like musical factors that simply complement the huge fucking experience we all had. I’m not going to remember that I streamed it on the internet where people make jokes about Animal Collective. I’m just going to remember how it felt.
With Centipede Hz, Animal Collective have delivered a cluttered, abrasive album that confirms their naysayers' exaggerated perceptions of the band. Beckoning back the Strawberry Jam-era of the band more so than Merriweather Post Pavilion does, Centipede Hz proves a difficult listen atBeckoning back the Strawberry Jam-era of the band more so than Merriweather Post Pavilion does, Centipede Hz proves a difficult listen at first, but there is as many ideas here at play as Merriweather. The LP's promo 'Today's Supernatural' is a tornado of reverbed guitars and pounding drum beats, accompanied by Avey Tare's shouts and wails.
Animal Collective need to make a change. The Baltimore-formed quartet have been paragons of US experimental pop for over a decade. But, as this latest album shows, their schtick is wearing thin. Of the group’s members it’s Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) whose solo efforts have been the most exciting, and his last album – 2011’s drone-heavy and awkward ‘Tomboy’ – is a more engaging listen than ‘Centipede Hz’. In contrast, the group has pushed the fun and the familiar to the fore, giving the more surreal elements on this album the safe feeling of over-quoted Monty Python sketches. Animal Collective ought to be able to crush their contemporaries with their originality, as they always have done.
Centipede Hz (2xLP, Album, Dlx, Ltd, 180 + DVD). Centipede Hz (CD, Album). Centipede Hz (CD, Album, Gat). HSE-10126, WIGCD274J.
Centipede Hz, the 10th Animal Collective album, follows the widely celebrated Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) and it's the first since Strawberry Jam (2007) to feature all four original band members: Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin. As the album's opening drum crashes and radio interference immediately make clear, Animal Collective have made their most widescreen and fully realized music to date. The album is a panoramic set of songs that shimmer with the confidence and wonder of Animal Collective's unique inner logic and the luminous warmth of their sound world