Animal Collective, Japandroids and Grizzly Bear Take Top Honours in Exclaim!'s Best Pop Rocks Albums of 2009

Animal Collective, Japandroids and Grizzly Bear Take Top Honours in Exclaim!'s Best Pop Rocks Albums of 2009
Where last year we seemed to be in touch with our folksy/woodsy acoustic side (Fleet Foxes, Plants and Animals, Bon Iver), in Exclaim!'s best of 2009 Pop Rocks list, the watchwords are "eclectic," "electric" and "electronic." Dreamy pop cool met just the right hint of dance, giving us year-end list-making albums by the likes of Phoenix, the XX and a guitar-shedding (instead of shredding) Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Meanwhile artists so singular no one genre can hold them, like Bats for Lashes and Wax Mannequin, also made their marks.

But who best combined all those qualities in 2009? Animal Collective, via the bright rainbow kiss to your brain, Merriweather Post Pavilion, which has taken the top spot on our 2009 Pop Rocks best-of.

You can listen to Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion here on, where it will be streaming all week.

We had been set up to expect great things from the pseudonymous outfit with the breakthrough of Strawberry Jam in 2007, not to mention the break out of Panda Bear's even higher-rated Person Pitch. Merriweather exceeds those expectations. Released in January, we continued revisiting the album all year long, each time finding a new nugget of melody, a new twinkling harmony, a stray rhythmic underscore that we'd missed before.

Animal Collective's complexity seemed to be another quality that we valued in 2009, as other top Pop Rocks picks like Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors and St. Vincent also made music that filled your head, as well as made you nod to the beat. This isn't to to say fun and loud didn't have their place this year, with Japandroids, Future of the Left, Girls and the Thermals all bringing the noise to our best-of list from their various corners of the globe.

Also, a few veterans showed us that rock'n'roll isn't only for the young: Dinosaur Jr. proved that reunions can produce work equal to a band's glory days, while Flaming Lips and Wilco made little variations on their recipes and brought us back for new helpings.

To see Exclaim!'s complete 2009 Pop Rock best-of list, click here.

Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion will be streaming on until December 21.