Centipede Hz is the ninth album by Animal Collective. Its William Gibson-esque artwork depicts a complete dissolve into nothingness while simultaneously shining the celebration of rebirth.
Centipede Hz is a childlike confrontation of removing oneself from the confinements of modern music and being absorbed into something extremely convoluted yet simple.
When removing any needless dissection of what Centipede Hz may be about, underneath lies a simple, although at times disjointed, piece of experimental pop music.
The long and surreal career of Animal Collective can be defined through their latest effort on the album. In many ways it serves as a continuance of their ever-changing aesthetics.
The band has always been labeled as “weirdos.”
Nonsensical, spaced-out, by darlings of the Pitchfork generation whose strange sensibilities seem to be marketed towards the suburban neo-hippie and appreciated by the faithful to the bizarre, Dadaist, and musical fetishists of the uncanny.
Due to their expressively odd compositions, most overlook the simplicity that Animal Collective’s brand of pop music presents. It was with their previous album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, that their sense of melody was completely at the forefront. The “pop” side of Animal Collective was so extreme that it was seen as almost deplorable to many fans.
But Centipede Hz is the complete opposite. While still pop, it is a completely different form of the genre.
Since their first full collaborative effort, Here Comes the Indian, released in 2003, fans have yearned for that chaos to return. Centipede Hz, in a way, lives up to those expectations.
Sonically it is indeed chaotic, but it is just that. Centipede Hz isn’t as weird as it is a fantastical and carefree detachment of reality.
Centipede Hz is Here Comes the Indian by sound, but retains the pop aesthetic of earlier albums such as Feels or Merriweather Post Pavilion. Centipede Hz is cohesively fine-tuned in its nature and plays out quite safely.
Individual songs struggle to stand out, offering little gratification, but as a whole the album shines. Centipede Hz is the closest variation to the band’s live performance.
Their shows are typically a stream of consciousness affair in which the band tends to play alternate renditions of their songs or debut unfamiliar material. Centipede Hz is simply something to be experienced as one total thing. To take it apart loses all meaning.
This may be the most realized Animal Collective album yet. The return of the band’s guitarist, Deakin (Joshua Dibb), has brought back an off kilter melodic sensibility that has helped Animal Collective maintain a fuller sound in the past.
Avey Tare (David Portner) and Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) show restraint and no longer fight over vocal parts. Even the Geologist (Brian Weitz) allows himself to be overcome by the more organic instrumentation on the album to create a fuller whole.
In the end, Animal Collective is Centipede Hz. A dangling, confused mess that no one can exactly interpret. Each leg necessary for the next to step forward. But in the end, they do step forward, and with that they continue to succeed by their own means.