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March 02, 2009


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Good post.

"It says something that they didn't play a number of my favorite songs—"For Reverend Green," "Peacebone," "Banshee Beat," "Grass," "Bluish"—yet I came away from the show feeling wholly satisfied."

I saw Animal Collective twice, back in the Sung Tongs/Feels days, and at no point was it even clear that they were playing songs I knew, but both shows were exactly as you put it: fuuuuuuuuuuck

I don't how I'd rank their albums. I think Perpetua is right on in some ways, but I disagree that the new one is the "first really great record they've made". He then talks about discipline and focus, as if these are necessities for great records.

His references to Pavement and Radiohead are interesting. I love them both, but to my ears, Animal Collective are sui generis, and the other two are not.

Agreed about the "first really great album" comment - I think Strawberry Jam is outstanding. That aside I've still only heard two others - Campfire Songs, which I really can't listen to, and Feels, which I think veers between genius and wankery - it truly is a fine line for these guys.

Campfire Songs isn't really an album, you know? It's like, I dunno, a Sentridoh album or something, or Zep's Coda. I like it, but I wouldn't tout it or anything.

Feels is straight up great.

I'm curious what you'd think of Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished. That's like, Avey Tare recorded some songs, Panda Bear added percussion, and it was released to no fanfare on the world's tiniest label. Campfire is more in the spirit of that (spirit, not sound; they sound nothing alike). I don't know that much of an audience was expected for these records. The only one I haven't been able to listen to is Danse Macabre...

I'm still awaiting hearing this album (where is it emusic?? huh?). But I'm really excited about it.

Like you I loved Strawberry Jam. But I started buying more and have been thoroughly underwhelmed. I think I genuinely dislike Sung Tongs, and I have a real love/hate relationship with Feels (about half of the songs are outstanding, and about half are, not bad, but just boring and forgettable).

Everything I've heard from MPP sounds good and interesting. I'm really hoping I'll love it like SJ.

Jeremy - eMusic just added it today! They must be reading. (right? that's the only explanation!).

I still haven't heard Sung Tongs, though I think I'll get it, speaking of eMusic, when my March downloads kick in - though I think my tastes mirror yours, Jeremy, more than they do yours, Richard. At least this time around...

I keep emphasising that Feels (for example), is great, in part because I suppose I have a different conception of what constitutes a great record. Does every song have to be equally excellent? Or even good?

In my view, if you're not occasionally irritated by an Animal Collective record, there's a problem. Now, obviously there are albums where there are, say, five great songs, and five blah-to-garbage songs, and the five great don't make it a great album. Or, the listening experience for the whole is such that the lesser material is not elevated by the great songs. For Animal Collective, the perhaps less compelling moments fit in well with the album as an experience. So, I guess I'd be curious as to which songs on Feels are, to you, wankery. ("Bees"? Maybe?)

I'm just thinking out loud here; not really trying to persuade. One final thought: my experience of those live shows (the "fuuuuuuuuuuck-ness", if you will), carries over to my experience of the albums. Which I primarily experience as full records, not as individual, discrete moments.


See, I only buy in to what you're saying to a certain extent - a great album can also be full of irritating moments, sure, but that doesn't make it a pleasurable listening experience. So maybe we're talking about two different things when we say an album is "great." Bottom line is that I much prefer listening to SJ and MPP on a regular basis than I do Feels. Both those albums find Animal Collective much more comfortable with their more "pop" components--song structure, repetition of melodies, etc.--without abandoning their adventurousness.

Feels is a good album, don't get me wrong. I do go back to it, though not as frequently as the others. And "Banshee Beat" is right up there with the very best songs the band has ever done. But most of the other songs on Feels that are sonically similar to "Banshee Beat" (I don't have the track list near by) just don't succeed the way that song does. I feel nothing when I hear those other songs--no pleasure, not even much irritation. It just sounds to me like people playing aimlessly. Even when I'm in the mood for something a little more spaced out, that's still not what I really want.

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