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coverpic flag US - Maryland - Full Moon 94 - 06/03/04

Animal Collective
Sung Tongs
Fat Cat

Having a name like Tim can be a curse. Think about it: there's the harsh 'T' sound at the beginning, like someone spitting, and as soon as someone says anything beginning with a T you think they're calling your name; likewise the 'm' sound at the end, whose murmur can be picked up in most spoken words. The bottom line is that I'm forever thinking people are calling my name. I reply with a tentative 'Yeah?', only to be greeted with silence. I'll listen to music, hear my name called, remove the headphones and call out - but nothing. It's eerie.

Listening to the fantastic new Animal Collective album I experienced this feeling repeatedly. Ghostly, folky and disarmingly pretty, this is easily the best album I've so far heard in 2004.

With just Avey Tare and Panda Bear this time around, this is perhaps their most accessible record yet, and easily the equal of any of their other albums. It combines the superb tunes from Spirit They've Gone... with the outdoors ambience of Campfire Songs, and then stirs in the hypnotic, spiralling voices from Here Comes The Indian. As far as giving a taste of the Animal Collective sound, this album should encourage everyone to explore the rest of their music.

However, there's plenty of gorgeous music here to lose yourself in, moving between shorter catchier songs like "Who Could Win A Rabbit" and "Sweet Road", and longer more expansive tunes like "The Softest Voice" and "Visiting Friends". Initially the balance between the poppier numbers and the lengthier more atmospheric tracks makes listening frustrating, as you're left gagging for more songs like "Leaf House". And ending the album with the weakest track "Whaddit I Done" is a foolish move. Nevertheless, there are so many lovely tunes here to absorb yourself in that the sequencing soon becomes more familiar and welcoming.

In an incredibly short time I have fallen in love with the Animal Collective sound. I can liken it best to sitting around a fire with some friends and acoustic instruments, and just jamming in a good natured, honest way. There's plenty of strange effects being deployed on the voices and percussion, which takes it way beyond a purely folky sound, and as a result sounds more playful and joyous, tempered with a slightly sinister edge.

Come and lose yourself.

Copyright © 2004 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Animal Collective articles/reviews: Centipede Hz, Feels, FloriDada, Here Comes the Indian, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Spirit They're Gone Spirit They've Vanished / Danse Manatee, Strawberry Jam, The Fillmore, San Francisco, Sunday 5 March 2006.

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