Strawberry Jam

What a shit year it's shaping up to be for indie stars. Let's see: Our Love to Admire, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (portentous title), Volta, Pocket Symphony, Wincing the Night Away, Icky Thump... I could go on; all poor spectres of former radness, or, failing that, complete fucking failures. So, I sit here, past the half-way mark in the first year in which I get to write an end-of-year wrap-up, completely bummed at bands that I once lauded just dumping such turds on me.

Until now. Thank you, Animal Collective.

A reverence for everything life-sustaining...

Foodstuffs, looped synth pillings and bursts, more or less discernible singing, cyclic samples, drums not where they were in Feels but still there, vocals that shift through Feels-esque accenture and screams to Person Pitching starriness and this newfound legibility, less complete freakouts (such as went down on People), more syncopated (even though AC's versions of syncopation are nothing you'd expect), less miasmic swirling, more structured but still open. It bursts, it goes to certain heights and then comes back down, it blasts through to places hitherto unknown. There's a magic to it, just like every other recording - this time more easy to grasp? Humour, yes, but not in a highly annoying 'ironic' sense and never really intentional. Carnivalesque, I suppose, but not freakish. Like the band processing their own back catalogue? In a sense, but there's an original intent. Some moments go full-throttle (Chores), others don't, rather calculating explosion (Cuckoo Cuckoo). Corporeal, but not like Feels was. These binaries are misleading, though - things can't be parsed out when it comes to Animal Collective.

For Reverend Green - "NOW I [scream it!] think it's alright to feel inhuman", guitar (?) crunched and looped, o oos taken somewhere pastoral, cymbals crash while clicking in time, more screams! Bagpipes? No, couldn't be, not that obvious. There's a point, just after he sings "for one moment" when music, lyric and vocal merge, sublime. "for revrennn grene" - who is this man/substance? Lucky bloke. Who is this band? What is this?

Fireworks - closest to the homeliness of Feels, drum-control, but there's that insistent looping of ... what? Things build up so nicely, so happily! Like watching pyrotechnics! But not really - because although nostalgia might be evoked, it certainly isn't invoked - the past is where it lies, things are moving on.

Paragraphs don't make sense of this - the limits of discourse? Something like that. The limits of music? No, but definitly avant-garde, in the original sense of the phrase: something like cultural definers. The Beatles of our generation? Is such possible? Comparisons are moot. Experimental :: Pop; not a contradiction.

There is no interpretive key to such work, everything is speculation, except for this: I'm not disappointed. I'm ecstatic.

Strawberry Jam, Animal Collective's eighth full-length, is released September 8 through Domino.

Animal Collective - Fireworks

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