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