Tuesday, November 24, 2009

4. Animal Collective "My Girls" (2009)

I began working on this list right around the time Merriweather Post Pavilion was released. I caved and bought the album after reading the rapturous reviews it was getting. Listening to the record a few times, I was immediately intrigued by its first single, "My Girls." It's a slow-burn song, like the rest of MPP. But as I compiled my list, it worked its way into my mind. I've probably listened to the song a few hundred times now, so I feel comfortable making the next statement. "My Girls" is brilliant. Utterly, utterly brilliant.

A caveat: I am not a fan of avant-garde music. But "My Girls" (or MPP, for that matter) is not avante-garde, no matter what is said of it. It is pop music dismantled and put back together funny. At first it sounds structureless, which is why it invites the avante-garde label and why it is so slow-burn. Actually, its structure is fugal, repeating elements and themes until they bore their way into your ear, never to escape.

"My Girls" is an example of how, in music, the right element played at the right time can cause unadulterated joy in the listener. Here it's a well-timed hand clap, or an exuberant "wooooo," that does the trick. What at first appears to be a cacophony of sound becomes a glorious cacophony of sound.

Brian Wilson casts a long shadow in music nowadays, especially over this list. But "My Girls" is an example of how a band can channel Wilson while pushing his sound into new territory, and in this case, into the cosmos.

Click here to view the entire list.