I've held the copy that the local record store, The Candyman, is holding for me. It's beautiful. But the sound of the album, which I did manage get an advanced copy of, is amazing.
Of course, anyone who knows the band will immediately compare Merriweather to 2007's Strawberry Jam. That's fair, Strawberry is a fantastic album, and one that deserved all the acclaim it received. But Merriweather surpasses it. Where Strawberry sounds, at times, in the words of a friend, "like a nervous breakdown," Merriweather is refined and controlled. The chaos of Strawberry is replaced by a band that has perfected the art of surreal psychedellia. The album is still filled with experimentation and improvisation, but the conversation between musicians is a non-stop dialog, much like I'd like to imagine the ones between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to have sounded. Everything is in agreement, but it pushes the other farther into the ideas that are only beginning to blossom.
Like much of the work of this band it's difficult to discuss what exactly it sounds like to someone who hasn't heard it. There are ambient sounds behind a background of harmony that calls to mind The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds at its weirdest. It makes you want to dance wildly and be held tight at the same time. It's music that almost shouldn't work because it's pulling from so many places and is so far from typical time signatures, but it does work. It pulls its listeners in and allows them to let go of any ideas they have about music.
It does sound like a nervous breakdown, but the kind that makes you vomit rainbows instead of slitting your wrists.