My first thought when I finished listening to Coming to Centipede Hz was that I wish I had taken a few more days to expand upon the brief entry I posted for Merriweather Post Pavilion. Where that album found Animal Collective opening up and exploring new avenues born out of circumstance (guitarist Deakin took a leave of absence), Centipede Hz feels like an awkward attempt to fold Deakin back into a mix that was built for the opposite purpose.
“Moonjock” opens with a massive pulse of percussion that signals a more direct approach to the band’s sound, but it serves to add a layer of tension that feels at odds with the more playful vocal melody. Lyrically Animal Collective remain on familiar ground: family nostalgia and young love rule the day. Songs like “Today’s Supernatural” and “Applesauce” trend toward darker, more mechanized sonic landscape despite their penchant for Brian Wilson harmonies. I think the biggest issue I have with Centipede Hz is its inherent twitchiness; the jarring nature of the tracks doesn’t easily allow one to fall into the music, and more attentive listening doesn’t yield the same rewards MPP did.
One of the things I learned when looking up Merriweather Post Pavilion is that Noah Lennox’s alter ego Panda Bear released Person Pitch two years earlier. I always though it came later, and was for me a true extension of what Animal Collective did with MPP. Turns out the opposite was true. But because of my experience with those records (as well as Panda Bear’s follow-up, Tomboy) I’m happy to leave the connection in place, erroneous as it is, and Centipede Hz behind. Certainly not bad, but it doesn’t put me in a place I really want to be.