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Animal Collective, "Centipede Hz"
Animal Collective, “Centipede Hz”

Animal Collective always seem to be moving forward at an inhuman pace, pausing only to release a new album that says, “This is where we are. Listen and try to catch up. We’ll wait.”

There’s been a lot of fretting — or sneering, depending on personal feelings — over whether Animal Collective would be able to top Merriweather Post Pavilion. The record received well-deserved, breathless praise for being the band’s most pop-oriented and accessible music yet, while still retaining the band’s experimental style. Centipede Hz doesn’t try to recapture that, because that’s too safe for Animal Collective. Much of the brash weirdness of their older work is back, but this is still something altogether different.

Listening to Centipede Hz is like walking through a psychedelic jungle. It’s thick and lush, and there’s so much going on you might easily miss something if you’re not paying close enough attention. And a lot of that might startle you, too. Among tangles of fuzzy bass lines, shrieking and whistling synths and clattering percussion, even more unusual sounds jump out without warning, and sometimes disappear just as quickly. If you have a fascination for or even the patience for experimental weirdness and dissonance, this will be a gift that keeps on giving. If not, the album might leave you annoyed and tired.

Some tracks are better suited for anyone looking for stronger hooks or a melody to hold on to, like stomping “Wide Eyed” or pop-melodied “Mercury Man.”  On the other end, there are tracks like “Rosie Oh” — off-kilter, bleeping and vocally monotonous.

The point, as with any Animal Collective album, is proceed with caution and an open mind. We might not always be sure what they’re doing, but it feels like they’re doing it right.

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