Arts

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Animal Collective

Centipede Hz | Domino

3 / 5

IT’S BEEN THREE long years, but Baltimore natives Animal Collective finally return with a new studio offering called Centipede Hz. The group made a big splash in 2009 with Merriweather Post Pavilion, a unique blend of Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies and dense-but-melodic electronics that was significantly more accessible than their previous outputs. Now with former member Josh Dibb, a.k.a. Deakin, returned to its ranks, the band revisits the more abrasive and experimental sounds of previous releases, to mixed results.

Animal Collective has always been known for stuffing their songs with a variety of synthesizer sounds, live instrumentation, and samples, but the songs on Centipede Hz just feel overloaded. Sometimes it works, like on lead single “Today’s Supernatural,” the sing-along-driven “Applesauce,” and the excellent closer “Amanita,” but some particularly meandering tracks like “Wide Eyed” and “Monkey Riches” feel too aimless in their overall composition to make an impression on the listener. Other songs such as “New Town Burnout” could’ve had several minutes trimmed from their running time.

Centipede Hz probably won’t shake up the indie music landscape like their last disc did, but it still makes for a decent listen. Glimpses of brilliant songwriting occasionally shine through, but unfortunately they are few and far between.

—Max Szyc

Jets Overhead

Boredom and Joy | Microgroove Entertainment Inc.

2.5 / 5

VICTORIA, B.C.-BASED alt-rockers Jets Overhead aptly describe their third full-length studio effort by its title, Boredom and Joy. The 11-track record isn’t actually bad anywhere; it’s a calm and mildly contemplative album made up of a bunch of decent songs that first-time listeners can easily get into. And that’s about it.

The album opens with its title track, a short, feel-good tune made up of a simple tambourine pattern, simple electric guitar chords, simple drumming, simple lyrics, some nice vocal harmonies, and a few chants of “hey!” It’s an OK start, though not particularly captivating. Unfortunately, things don’t pick up from there; most of the tracks are pretty similar to the opener.

There are some small highlights, however. “Love Got in the Way” offers a much-needed dose of different. “Sink or Swim” might be the standout of the album, with wispy vocal harmonies building to a catchy chorus. The penultimate song “Directions” is a decent foray into the psychedelic.

Oddly enough, the album’s biggest weakness is its likeability. Boredom and Joy is just so gosh darn smooth, inoffensive, and easy to listen to that none of the tracks really stick. Ultimately, Boredom and Joy comes off as background music. If you’re looking for a nice and safe soundtrack for casual coffee shop visits, Jets Overhead have you covered. But if you’re looking for an exciting album from a groundbreaking band that has interesting things to share, better give it a pass.

—Keeton Wilcock