Purported Merriweather Post Pavillion Cover Forget Guns 'N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, Portishead's Third, Dr. Dre's Detox, Eminem's Relapse. The first two have come and gone--finally--and who knows when the second two will actually see the light of day. Forget them all, because right now the bloggerati, critically inclined, and plebe-class masses are all atwitter over the impending Jan. 20 release of Merriweather Post Pavilion--the eighth studio album from top-tier, Baltimore-bred freak-folk act Animal Collective. It's not that the songs--which are purported to feature massive hip-hop-esque low-end courtesy of producer Ben Allen (P. Diddy, Gnarls Barkley)--aren't available in any form. Live recordings of the expansive tunes abound, and dozens are probably being downloaded right now. But with the exception of two or three tracks, the real McCoy remains frustratingly out of reach with less than 45 days left to go until release (on inauguration day, coincidentally enough). From the Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks message board to Sound Opinions to almost any indie blog you'd care to name, fans conjecture wildly, rate what came before, and wait with baited breath for the record just to fucking leak, already.
The anticipatory chatter was hot and heavy on ILX. "If this isn't effectively their Collectidelica it will be a massive missed opportunity," one poster insisted. "Sorry to be too 'dudeish,' but I think,potentially, that this album might RULE," another gushed.
After attending a Domino-sponsored listening party, one poster had this to say: "it's a great record: i can't wait to get to know it, hear it on headphones etc. it's got the continuity and otherness of records like Loveless, and such a different, full, bold sound--really new-amerykah-beat-driven, and really electrically synthesised and busy." [Sic]
Given Web Sheriff's ultra-vigilant policing of Merriweather Post Pavilion track leaks and pent-up, vaguely sexualized anticipation on the part of scruffy Person Pitch devotees, a variation on the Rickroll was, perhaps, inevitable. It finally arrived Friday, Dec. 5, in the form of a post on ilxor.com, where a poster shared a sendspace link and the following message:
"this will probably get my fiend at Domino fired.... but Merry Xmas ILM!!!!"Duly migrated to the poster's blog--roxymuzak.blogspot.com--and, from there, to numerous other blogs and hotbeds of aural discussion, the too-good-to-be-true link drew in suckers by the scores who, presumably, should've known much better. Savvy commenters got in on the action, successfully creating the illusion that the leak was legit.
"I GOT IT DOWNLOAD RIGHT NOW!," a Malkmus board gadfly thundered. "This can't be true though." Other cross-web reactions ranged from "I love it!!What do you think guys???" to "FAKE" to "it is real, and it is fabulous" to "it's been deleted already! someone re-up please pretty please" to photographs of Sarah Palin winking to "Leaks like this are deracinating the integrity of the music industry," which should've given the game away to anyone who hadn't yet figured out what, exactly, was afoot. Someone who claimed to be the Web Sheriff--but in all likelihood probably wasn't--weighed in, too: "This is awesome."
The link remains active. As of 11:16 a.m. Dec. 11, some 732 people had downloaded the latest re-up of the file. So: if you just have to have 11 egregiously mislabelled mp3s of Rick Astley's deathlessly corny "Never Gonna Give You Up" floating around in your iPod's digital ether, check it out. Below are the lyrics, which are so easily transferrable to the unspoken-yet-totally-ungrounded contract between downloader and file hoster that a compare/contrast breakdown is unnecessary:
We're no strangers to love You know the rules and so do I A full commitment's what I'm thinking of You wouldn't get this from any other guy I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling Gotta make you understand Never gonna give you up/ Never gonna let you down/ Never gonna run around and desert you/ Never gonna make you cry/ Never gonna say goodbye/ Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you We've know each other for so long/ Your heart's been aching/ But you're too shy to say it/ Inside we both know what's been going on/ We know the game and we're gonna play itAnimal Collective's management? Bemused, we presume. Rick Astley's lawyers? Maybe not so much.