Listening to Animal Collective nearly always makes us feel like we are climbing into a skip with a particularly testy rottweiler. It’s combative sound, loud, in your face. Its active listening with your back to the wall. Maybe these guys were brought up in large families where they had to scream to be heard. Or maybe it’s simply a function of the collaborative nature of AC. For sure there are many cooks in this kitchen.
But you get over this lack of subtlety and refocus your regard on their sublime iconoclastic approach. There really is only one other band that have fashioned an approach this up, this full on, and that was the Beach Boys in their heyday. And furthermore, few bands sound so simultaneously complex yet direct, like a tangled ball of thread you learned to live with instead of were irritated by.
Centipede Hz continues what has been a very good run that shows no sign of letting up. Singalong songs like Today’s Supernatural and Applesauce are fun sonic skits. Both foreground the texture of the surface detail, it’s as though the entire being of the soul behind this collective animal has been externalised into a thick oily accretion that you can run your finger along and feel.
What you want always are melodies to give forward momentum to this glorious mess. Occasionally when the boys meditate (check New Town Burnout) one’s attention does tend to wander with the absence of a good tune. But that’s because they are so difficult to grasp, like painting the sky, it’s too big, too overwhelming to remember these creations piecemeal. It’s simply too much to take in in less than a year.
Random thoughts whilst listening to this: Peanuts Pigpen entering and leaving in a cloud of stink. The relentless enthusiasm of capitalism and Ayn Rand endorsed self-realisation. A wall of TVs with the sound up. Cycling into the wind on a hot day. AC knocked us down, ran over us in their rainbow Hummer, yelled some obscenities then screamed off over the vanishing point. How do they do it?