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‘Hz’ is less weird

by Hutton Marshall

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Courtesy Domino Record Co

Animal Collective released “Centipede Hz” on Sept. 4. This is the band’s latest album since “Merriweather Post Pavilion” came out in early 2009, which led to an explosion in popularity for its bubbly synths, offbeat electro and a chance for many to finally dance to the band that had weirded them out for so long.

With “Centipede Hz,” the band seems to realize its harsh jump between Merriweather and its earlier work. It appears some course correction was done with its latest. It also marks the return of long-lost member: Deakin.

Animal Collective’s ninth album is far from the jarring and ambient sounds of its earlier days, but it’s certainly backpedaled to the off-centered spontaneity that marks its music. The songwriting, this time done collectively back in their hometown of Baltimore, has finally matured. While in its last album Animal Collective seemed to have to minimalize its usually lush music to enhance its melodies and chord changes, the band does it more gracefully this time around. The backing percussion absent from Merriweather returns in full force and it seems the band evolved from the philosophy that to make it memorable you have to strip a song down.

But my favorite thing about this album is its lack of unnecessary weirdness. This is a good sign to me, because it shows shock value in music is no longer a priority for Animal Collective, which always struck me as a cheap way to gain popularity. I’m not saying these guys are now comparable to Alicia Keys or anything (I don’t know why Alicia Keys popped into my head there), but they’ve minimized the avant-garde quality down just enough to accomplish their desired theme—no more, no less.

“Centipede Hz” won’t explode in popularity the way Merriweather did, and it shouldn’t. It’s apparent Animal Collective didn’t try to write any songs, such as the popular hit, “My Girls,” and that’s commendable. Animal Collective’s music isn’t exclusive or elitist, but when these guys are making the music they want to make, it’s pret- ty far out there, which means it’s never going to grab the attention of as broad a fan base as most other acts. Anyway, I’m glad Animal Collective returned to outer space where it belongs.

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