Label: Domino Release Date: 12/01/09 Link: Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion [Domino; 2009] has been tantalizing fans and creating more than a stir throughout the vast and thirsty blogsphere for some months now. With the expected likes of Pitchfork, Uncut, The Skinny and the NME all singing its praises, even The Sun online has jumped on the wagon, despite referring to AC as 'Indie Geeks' and using a few too many images of various pandas, the album gets full marks. All of this early excitement reminded me of 2007's live shows... playful and captivating re-workings of older songs widened many an eye, such as 'Leaf House', and 'Who Could Win a Rabbit' (2004's Sung Tongs), and one of my personal favourites - 'Grass' (Feels, 2005), which with the absence of band member Deakin (guitar, vocals) illustrated their expanding use of electronics and pop sensibilities. With the release of Strawberry Jam that year, I was ready to embrace that. It was a jaunty but jerky affair, kind of like being drunk at a fairground - bright lights, colours and whirring beats 'n clicks, quite a roller coaster ride, albeit ending on the endearing little number 'Derek', a song about Panda Bear's dog. Their 8th studio album has the allure of a sweet, swelling sticky fruit, ripe for picking January 12th (UK release) to shake off all of our winter blues. And of course it lives up to its hype. 'In The Flowers' floats in blissfully like it could have been quite at home on Feels. The image of a girl dancing in a field, “high on her own movement” paints a soft and serene picture but with underlying melancholy, as Avey Tare stands "Feeling envy for the kid who'll dance despite anything/I walk out in the flowers and feel better" until he wistfully states “If I could just leave my body for a night...” and the track erupts into a galloping joyous rave of synthesizers and a tasty booming bass line, just for a short while before cooling off for 'My Girls' to sweep in... And how! This song is pure genius. A humble statement from Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) about the genuine need for four walls around his wife and daughter. Mundane, domestic life and romance have never come across as endearing and enviable as they do on Merriweather Post Pavilion. Layered up multi-track recordings of Panda's vocals echo the uplifting lushness of his solo release Person Pitch in 2007, but the relentless keys, bass and carefree handclaps makes this the first of a few songs on the album fit for dancin', much like track 4, 'Summertime Clothes'. This song makes me imagine what it would feel like getting a little tipsy and bounding around the streets on a warm summer's night with a equally hyped accomplice, probably singing "when the sun goes down we'll go out again!" Undoubtedly the finest pop song on the album, it is a simple commentary on human nature at its most youthful - curious and restless, craving companionship. 'Bluish' recalls this curious, enamored state of mind also. With lyrics like "I'm getting lost in your curls" and "Keep on your stockings for a while, some kind of magic in the way you're lying there", remind me of the lovelorn and chipper 'The Purple Bottle' from Feels, except this time these feelings have calmed down from the excitable to the sultry, and 'Guys Eyes' follows on seamlessly from this. The album ends on 'Brother Sport', an infectious and euphoric dance tune, somewhat afrobeat-esque with a compassionate underlying message. Panda consoles his older brother after their father's death, advising him to follow his own voice. As the beat grows increasingly joyous, the song sends a message to family and fans alike: "Open up your throat," sings Panda, and "let all of that time go". Effervescent and hypnotic, this is definitely another personal favourite and I'm sure many others too. Merriweather Post Pavillion is dense, soaked in lush samples, synthetic pulses, and an amalgamation of pop, gospel, surf, avant-garde, soul, minimalism, electronica, ambient, and dance, but never lacks warmth and humanity. It is the perfect remedy for all of the fatigue that comes with the post-New Year and January Sales bullsh*t. And without sounding biased, this album is perfection. It feels refreshing and new, while still feeling familiar and warm as with most of AC's work. Here's to a happy 2009!