I was never all that aware of Animal Collective before Merriweather Post Pavilion smeared them all over the internet, and as much as I enjoyed that album, I did feel that it faded badly in the second half, and certainly stopped well short of according it the accolades of genius and glory which many felt appropriate.
In short, I am probably a fairweather, casual fan the likes of whom dedicated fans and probably even the band themselves can entirely do without. I wouldn’t want someone who sort of enjoyed Lyre of Orpheus telling me what to think about Nick Cave, for instance.
Nevertheless I was rather looking forward to this album. My taste for choppy, abrupt pop music with a heavy electronic element to its construction (if not, in this instance, to its sound, particularly) is maybe limited, but it is definitely there, and it certainly felt plausible that I might end up loving this band. I don’t, though, and I don’t think this record is much cop.
And instead of my usual long-winded rambling, I think I know pretty much why. Merriweather Post Pavilion moved the band closer to the mainstream with some rather anthemic moments, and with hugely accessible choruses. The band seem to have retreated from that crowd-pleasing approach, but although they’ve made a record here which is perhaps a little less uncomplicatedly melodic, they haven’t really pushed it in an alternative direction instead.
Consequently this feels like an album lacking a well-realised identity. It’s not a big pop record, as they might have made, but neither is it a difficult, challenging record either. It’s just there, and I have to confess that I’m not really get much from it at all, one way or another.