Animal Collective’s ‘Centipede Hz’ takes their sound in new direction

Clara Bartlett

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Animal Collective has always been there for me. When I reached the pinnacle of college application stress during my senior year, I could take 48 seconds of solace in their strange experimental song “College.” In a hybrid of spooky and sincerely friendly voices, the members of Animal Collective reminded me, “You don’t have to go to college.” And when I needed an all-inclusive pick-me-up song to play with friends, “My Girls” was there, drawing my fingers to the volume knob on my car. Even partially deaf with a near-miss car accident in the process, I felt better at the end of an elapsed five minutes 40 seconds.

However, Animal Collective is not some complacent friend always waiting to lend you their shoulder. No, Animal Collective will shock you, and sometimes test the limits of your ears’ patience and endurance. Thus, one’s love for Animal Collective isn’t fueled by musical enjoyment, but instead by musical understanding.

Some songs, like “Brother Sport,” are a sly, sexual nod to oral stimulation that would otherwise fly under the radar if it weren’t for your detail-oriented, music-buff friend. And some of their songs––functioning as forms of experimental rock––can sound more like bouncy remixes of an early morning trash truck pick-up overlapped by some muddled vocals.

On Sept. 4, Animal Collective released their ninth studio album, entitled Centipede Hz. With the pop success of their 2009 album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, the release of Centipede Hz was anticipated with both excitement and apprehension from fans.

In Centipede Hz, it’s possible to hear the poppy hooks reminiscent of Merriweather Post Pavilion. But unfortunately, the clarity of these hooks that popularized Animal Collective’s previous album are cluttered and buried underneath the angst and hyperactive experimentation that is unique to Centipede Hz.

Songs like “Moonjack,” “Today’s Supernatural” and “Mercury Man” initially show promise, but as the songs proceed, they become convoluted by competing rhythms, electronic gargling and information/noise overload. If Centipede Hz and Merriweather Post Pavilion were brothers, Centipede Hz would definitely be the angsty, somewhat dislikable younger 13-year-old bro, trying to get his act together while Merriweather Post Pavilion would be the cooler, more levelheaded, unanimously appealing but sometimes drugged-out older brother.

Overall, Centipede Hz is worth a listen, but make sure you don’t have a headache going into your musical adventure.

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