Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion is the “first great album” to come out of 2009, said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune. The trio’s “globe-trotting, genre-busting eclecticism” has always made them impossible to categorize, but the band’s ninth album is the “most focused” yet. The songs are “instantly engaging, the melodies pushed to the foreground of the dense, burbling mixes.”

It’s not “pop but it plays like it,” said Mike Powell in The Village Voice. From the effervescent beats of “My Girls” to the South American stylings of “Brother Sport,” the album boasts “gorgeous vocal arrangements as harmonically expansive as they are rhythmically propulsive.” With more attention on structure than sonic effects, Animal Collective “synthesizes all the styles they’ve flirted with” into an electro-pop that’s completely its own.

“Everything that’s defined the band to this point is refined and amplified here,” said Mark Richardson in Pitchforkmedia.com. But as urbane as Merriweather Post Pavilion is, it “remains drenched in their idiosyncratic sound.”