Animal Collective: Back in the pack

ANDREW PENKALSKI | Updated 3/20/2013

Founding member Deakin rejoins the indie megastars.


Windish Agency

From the piecemeal method that Animal Collective has always followed, it seems that the C-word part of their moniker functions more as a reminder that their free-floating parts can still come together as a whole.

Ever since the primal wanderlusting of “Feels” in 2005, the Baltimore four-piece has allowed gestations to occur across distances — typically with Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) thumping out drums over in Portugal, Brian Weitz (Geologist) tinkering over loop tables in D.C., and David Portner (Avey Tare) and Josh Dibb (Deakin) working out guitar parts in New York.

So after close to a decade spent working best at an arm’s length, the childhood friends of Animal Collective found themselves writing together in Maryland for last fall’s “Centipede Hz,” their ninth album.

“We kind of have this understood policy that we’ve always kept where we see our pasts as these eras that are defined by an album,” said Dibb ahead of his band’s sold-out show Monday at First Avenue. “Whatever era we’re in and whatever the genesis of that era is, we try to stay true to that and let it run its course.”

Dibb may have the best vantage point in regard to these regular mutations. After recording “Strawberry Jam” in 2006, and going on the tour that preceded the album, he entered a sabbatical that lasted until Animal Collective’s 2011 Coachella appearance. Where most working bands would have replaced Dibb, Animal Collective left his chair empty and open.

“I don’t necessarily feel like there was a point of re-entering the fold,” he said. “We’re all really close friends and stay very much in touch. We’re always working on stuff on the side that isn’t as time-consuming as writing records like [2010 visual album] ‘ODDSAC’ and things like that.”

Still, it’s hard not to feel that this Maryland homecoming is something being celebrated on “Centipede Hz.” Where the massive success of 2009’s “Merriweather Post Pavillion” showed the group at its most penetrable and lyrically mature, “Centipede Hz” has the chaotic inertia of four kids in a practice space — something largely attributed to Lennox’s position back behind a proper drum kit.

“The whole vibe of being in that practice space alone was big,” Dibb said. “[Noah’s] a pretty aggressive drummer, so him really going at it just kind of leads to more energy and volume.”

That also could be the reason why the record’s acclaim has been more middling. It’s odd that moments of greatest creative joy for a group often fail to translate similarly with listeners. But when discussing the upcoming string of dates, supported by the equally eccentric Baltimore son Dan Deacon, Dibb promised an experience more frenetic than the arms-folded pace of their previous tours.

“Watching the ‘Merriweather’ shows, I kind of had moments where I thought the dudes were so static on stage,” he said. “Noah kind of said, ‘Yeah, this stuff is awesome, but it got kind of weird that we could play a show for an hour or more and step off the stage without even breaking a sweat.’ ”