Arriving three years after the release of the band’s last album, Animal Collective’s latest release, “Centipede Hz,” is likely to leave long-standing fans impressed by its effort to create a distinct sound. However, fans more familiar with their recent work might not welcome the new direction, which occasionally deviates from what can be considered classic Animal Collective.
Instrumentally speaking, the first half of “Centipede Hz” wavers between a sophisticated and raw sound, indicating that the group has yet to decide how it wishes to re-establish itself. Animal Collective immediately tests its new sound with the opening track, “Moonjock.” The song is fast-paced and slightly disorganized, though melodic classic rock chords filter in and out. Such characteristics have rarely — if ever — described an Animal Collective track. Animal Collective’s toying around can be heard on “Today’s Supernatural,” elements of which verge into world music territory.
When it comes to vocals, lead singer Avey Tare’s tonalities are perhaps the only constant on the album, reminding listeners of the group’s past releases. However, fans will also notice a general theme of experimentation, especially on “Wide Eyed.” Here, we are treated to singer Deakin’s melodic, anthem-like vocals, while overall the track suggests Animal Collective might be moving in a more psychedelic direction.
In a transition that will be appreciated by some fans, Animal Collective returns to its classic sound with the fourth track, “Applesauce.” The joyful, free-spirited emotions conveyed in this song evoke a stress-free life and tempt you to leave the tune on repeat. Other songs like “New Town Burnout” and “Mercury Man” also have a laid-back feel, giving the second half of the album a tranquil quality and making it great to listen to while relaxing.
To those familiar with Animal Collective’s trajectory over the past decade, “Centipede Hz” is a laudable effort from a well-established group that manages to maintain its essence, but also it branches out into a wider variety of sub-genres. To those unconcerned with Animal Collective before “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” the inconsistency might be off-putting. Fortunately, those fans have the album’s second half to look forward to, where the group returns to its old ways — perhaps as an approach to satisfy both camps. All in all, it is not an album that stands out on its own; it opens doors for a new Animal Collective, one whose direction in the near future will undoubtedly be based on “Centipede’s” reception. Whether or not fans want a new sound from the band is a decision that should and probably will be made on the next release.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 6 print edition. Kemet Dugue is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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