If you feel like ratcheting up the anxiety in your life, Animal Collective's newest album could be your soundtrack. The Baltimore psych-experimental rock band's ninth begins in a youthful and joyous way, but the exuberance unravels into something close to obnoxious chaos.
Gone are the Beach Boysesque harmonies and calm sonic oases that made 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion so wondrous and inviting. The relentless Centipede densely packs harsh and overwhelming digital wizardry into each of its 11 songs, adding radio interference, advertising snippets and white noise along the way.
It marks the return of founding member Deakin, who sat out the Merriweather album, and a return to the band's earlier avant-garde sound. They've always been challenging, and perhaps Merriweather veered too close to accessibility for their liking. (The abrasiveness of Centipede is certainly intentional.)
The album's easier to take track by track. Exuberant Flaming Lipsish opener Moonjock should be amazing fun performed live. First single Today's Supernatural has great rushes of drum fills and MGMT-like melodies, often screamed rather than sung. Applesauce's hyper, nonsensical verses are Centipede's most memorable.
Top track: Today's Supernatural