Published Dec 04, 2019In honour of the tenth anniversary of Merriweather Post Pavilion — Animal Collective's eighth studio album and their most commercially successful record to date — comes the release of Ballet Slippers, a collection of live recordings from that album, as well as a healthy mix of pre-2009 AnCo discography.
The record opens up with MPP's first track, "In the Flowers," and is aptly bookended by the record's final sprawling masterpiece, "Brothersport." Other album tracks include "Summertime Clothes," a messy yet fun "Lion in a Coma," "No More Runnin'" and the digitally rendered "Daily Routine," which showcases Panda Bear with an all-time peak vocal performance. The collective's rendition of "Guys Eyes" is especially otherworldly. Beginning like a sound collage, it is pieced together slowly and clumsily, underscored by its doubled-vision, choppy mixing and intermittent shouts from Avey Tare.
Likewise, where the band explore their back catalogue, they spice things up with new mixes and extended jams. "Banshee Beat" is another track the band took extra liberties with for an impressive, alien-esque performance. The resulting dazed-out, sunbaked execution is entirely unlike the original Feels recording, and is somehow even dreamier. Their "Who Could Win a Rabbit" interpretation is equally as transmogrifying, with an improvised quality not felt in the studio recording.
Then, something very special happens in the band's rendition of "Lablakely Dress"/"Fireworks." 20 minutes of demon noises and uneasy minor key alterations morph into an inexplicable guitar solo akin to the post-rock instrumentations of Explosions in the Sky, which simultaneously takes clear inspiration from their heroes in the Grateful Dead, a band they would go on to sample in "What Would I Want Sky" (a track unfortunately omitted from this particular live roster, despite its Fall Be Kind EP-mate "Bleed" making an appearance).
Ten years after the release of the century's best alternative record, Merriweather Post Pavilion remains as culturally important as it felt back in 2009. Ballet Slippers mines that very significance for its pure euphoria, and with carefully selected performances and interpretations, this celebration of that groundbreaking work does justice to its source material. (Domino)