we need to accept the possibility of a record so excellent we don’t understand it yet
From Stereogum’s review of Centipede Hz, by Animal Collective. I am afraid I have rejected that possibility.
But I did try and be fair in the Guardian review of it: I was probably a bit generous TBH. I guess most Guardian readers either know exhaustively who they are or have no idea at all, which made the balance between exposition and criticism more annoying than usual.
The entire “Centipede Hz” debacle is infuriating and bewildering to me. People seem hellbent on defending it— which they should, I suppose. Despite how I feel about the record (which I’m getting to), it is a totally bold move for the band to release this album after Merriweather. But it’s not like this album is a surprise. We (if you define ‘we’ as ‘someone who listens to Animal Collective’) knew that “Here Comes The Indian” was going to rear it’s frenetic head again.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think Centipede Hz is very good. And while that is of course MY opinion and no one else’s, when I read things like the above quote (which I’ve read around and heard aloud from real people as well), it sounds like they’re trying to say “I don’t really like this, but it’s Animal Collective so I have to say I still like it.” That is something we NEVER need to accept as a possibility. Yeah, I guess Centipede Hz might be excellent in ten years when all the Animal Collective-Indebted bands follow up their Odd Bloods and their Gossamers and their Bombays with their Cenitpede Hz-esque Noise Freak Out Atonal Shit Albums. But that’s the future, and it isn’t a future I look forward to.
Centipede Hz just seems discordant and busy and overly frenetic for the sake of it. The other albums all had a purpose behind their noises. Feels was an album that could throw the loud parts of Grass next to the weirdness of Bees next to the sublimeness of Banshee Beat. “Today’s Supernatural” sounds like someone Vomiting. But because this is Animal Collective, a band so revered that we’ve taken to shortening their name to AnCo (which is entirely repulsive to me), we straight up drink the vomit, no questions asked.
I’m not saying that bands shouldn’t be daring with their releases. But I loved Animal Collective for their sublime melodies, something that’s sadly and entirely absent from Centipede Hz. I think I’m just afraid that bands will get the wrong idea from this album and shirk melody. We need melody, don’t we? Are we over it?
Is this the final act of shedding the post-Beatles hangover that’s still going on?
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