Album Review: Animal Collective crashes its way to chaos on Centipede Hz


On its 10th studio album, Centipede Hz, Animal Collective amplifies a mellow soundscape with a jolt of electric mayhem that seems like a sour acid trip.

The quartet features lead vocalist Avey Tare and his fellow members Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist, all of whom take part in playing percussion, guitar and synthesizer. Straying from its blend of rousing guitar riffs, drum beats and sonic accents, Animal Collective glosses over its signature sound with samples and discordant sound bites, circa 2007’s Strawberry Jam, which produce nothing but static.

While the thrashing synthesizer beat of the opening tune “Moonjock” heralds in rich melodic textures, subsequent tracks including “Mercury Man” and “Applesauce” grow more vehement with overlapping radio transmission sounds and extraterrestrial resonance. Additionally, aside from the blare of excessive sound effects, Tare’s trademark whine in “Monkey Riches” clashes against a hodgepodge of beeps and trills – courtesy of keyboard and bongos – that eclipses a listenable groove.

Though the album possesses rushed tempos and migraine-inducing instrumentals that infringe upon a pure psychedelic sensation, the band manages to preserve a more melodious sound on some songs, resembling its typically mind-bending style. The third track “Rosie Oh” begins with an ultra-subdued funk guitar riff that morphs into a percolating cascade of bells and chirping switchboards, building a truly charming ambiance with soft, echoing vocals.

The adamant vocal delivery in first single, “Today’s Supernatural,” also punches out frantic staccato notes alongside a heavy tribal drumbeat. The beat resonates with its aggressive, albeit monotonous, lyrics: “Come on let-let-let-let-let-let-let go / It’s not a question for your head / Come and join me in this seat / ‘Cause there’s a ruby in your eye / Or you’re after me the same.”

The final song on the album, “Amanita,” provides a sonically splendid end to a largely dissonant slew of sounds by creating a dynamic mixture of bongo arpeggios, cymbal crashes and distorted sitar strumming that urges listeners to dance.

Despite the band’s attempts to conjure a meditative atmosphere, which was solidified by the music style in previous albums, Animal Collective spirals into this sonic chaos on Centipede Hz, falling short of trippy and instead triggering physical pain upon departure.