It's a pretty commonplace phenomenon in pop music nowadays: the band that quotes (rips off) Pet Sounds, Loaded, or Closer without so much as a single step in a new direction. Today’s pop music is so safe my faith in the medium was beginning to waver. And then Animal Collective came up with Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino), which is currently playing at every hip store/radio station/party in the world. The album represents a synthesis of too many styles and genres to count. Huge bass, soaking synth pads, and unabashedly danceable beats make Merriweather a departure from AC’s earlier ambient weedscapes. Merriweather’s rhythms are allowed to breathe in a way that’s rare for electro-bands of AC’s ilk; where most bands would go with four-on-the-floor, AC does a Latin-inflected hip-hop beat underneath five syncopated vocal parts. Avey Tare’s anthemic vocal performance is given tight, dry production, providing a gorgeous textural counterpoint to the wet synthesizer that occupies much of the album’s foreground. I know I can hear some Pet Sounds in there—along with 500 other influences and as many innovations.