Listening to Animal Collective records is akin to listening to the sounds inside the brain of a child genius who’s hopped up on a cocktail of Ritalin and Prozac and suffering all the known side effects of hyperactive paranoid neurosis. In a good way.
Weaved waves of hypnotic beats are mixed with samples and guitar loops to produce a sometimes awkward, but always interesting experimental sound. All this complimented by the brilliantly bonkers vocals of Avery Tare (supported by some beach boys-like harmonies). One moment singing melodically, then howling like a mad banshee - the innocence, intensity and soreness in the voice, while sounding like nothing else I’ve heard, fits the feel of the songs perfectly.
Listening to Animal Collective can sometimes be a bit challenging. The album opens with some awkward beats and crackles and beeps, but don’t be put off as everything comes together to produce a right rollicking song about monsters – Peacebone. The stand out tracks on Strawberry Jam are Reverend Green and Fireworks. The former, it’s speculated, is about the things you see living in NYC and contains, I think, one of the best/funniest lines on the album: “Bulimic vegetarian wins weight contest”. The latter, I’m certain, is my current favourite song.
New York based Animal Collective - made up of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist - all do their own stuff and all seem pretty prolific and I think this is their 8th long player together. (Panda Bear released a brilliant solo album earlier this year – Person Pitch – which is well worth a listen). Pound for pound, I’m not yet sure if Strawberry Jam is as good as their 2005 album Feels, but this is still a contender for album of the year if you ask me.
Listening to it I have to wonder how the bejesus they come up with such abstract ideas for their tunes. However, if they’re gonna keep on serving up delicious treats such as Strawberry Jam then I hope they keep taking the tablets.