With's 2009's MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION, Animal Collective fully completes its transition from a restless freak-folk act to an assured though still experimental electro-pop ensemble. Like its predecessor, STRAWBERRY JAM, MERRIWEATHER takes plenty of cues from PERSON PITCH, the acclaimed 2007 solo outing by singer/multi-instrumentalist Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), creating a mesmerizing, kaleidoscopic keyboard-heavy sound that might pass for pop in an alternate universe. While "My Girls" comes off like a dream collaboration between Brians Eno and Wilson, "Summertime Clothes" is a heavily looped piece of skewed synth-pop, and "Brother Sport" is a busy, highly percussive number that could almost pass for dance music. Though fans of Animal Collective's early lo-fi recordings may be alarmed by PAVILION's striking aural sheen, the album retains the group's signature strangeness, recasting it in bright, shimmering light. One of the best indie-pop releases of early '09, MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION is an impressive addition to the Animal Collective's revered catalogue, and marks a considerable step forward for the ever-adventurous act.