Release Date: Dec 15, 2009
Record label: Domino
The first song on Fall Be Kind, Animal Collective's new five-song EP, is called "Graze", and it starts with a colorful swirl of Disneyfied strings as Dave Portner (aka Avey Tare) sings teasing lines like "Let me begin" and "Let light in" and "Some ideas are brewing. " The song seems to be partly about the struggle of creation-- grazing on the imagination, maybe-- and then Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) comes in with his thick, honeyed voice to sing a bridge that seems a distant cousin of the Beach Boys' "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)". There's tension in this opening section; the words and music suggest a sticking point, something that needs to be punctured before the song (and ideas) can really flow.
If ever there were proof needed that music criticism shouldn’t purely be the preserve of music critics, it lies with the fact that far and away the funniest and most famous putdown directed towards Animal Collective came not from a 'professional', but a poster on the I Love Music boards. “OK, we get it,” quoth he or she, “You got stoned in the woods once.” Harsh, but, y’know, probably fair, or at least certainly in relation to Sung Tongs, the record said words were directed at and let's be honest, a not insubstantial chunk of Avey, Panda and the gang’s oeuvre. History does not record what said poster made of the band's subsequent journey towards the glowing electrical ebullience of Merriweather Post Pavilion.
If you've been waiting to declare Animal Collective's unravelling, this disc won't back you up. The five-song EP only improves on the accessible cross-genre jaunt that is Merriweather Post Pavilion, released to critical acclaim earlier this year. [rssbreak] The first three minutes of live favourite Graze provide a slow-motion, groggy welcome before Gheorghe Zamfir's pan flute flings open your blinds to reveal the morning sun.
You would think delivering an instant classic like Merriweather Post Pavilion and touring the hell out of it would be achievement enough for one year, but Animal Collective can’t seem to sit still. These guys are hopelessly predisposed to productivity and action. Over the last decade, they have released eight albums, four EPs, and numerous solo projects, all while operating as a perpetual touring machine.
Singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche, as a more-indie-than-thou Christmas present for his mailing list, recently released his acoustic cover of the song Bluish from a little-blogged-about 2009 album by an obscure New York City group called Animal Collective. The naked treatment evinces that Animal Collective’s appeal lies deeper than its textures and sonic decorations; the group not only creates beautiful melodies but also writes endearing lyrics. This is not to say that a song is not worthy unless it passes the Lerche treatment (plenty of amazing music would sound stupid if rearranged by Bon Iver, like the Jesus Lizard, for example), but such a test works well for certain genres, especially anything that one could interpret as melody-driven pop.
For the first three minutes of "Graze," the first song on Fall Be Kind, the first Animal Collective release since Merriweather Post Pavilion, you think you're in for a run-of-the-mill follow-up EP, one destined to be packaged with the preceding LP someday. Three minutes in, however, Geologist gets tropical, the vocal harmonies kick in, and Avery Tare and Panda Bear start going crazy with keyboards and guitars. Suddenly, there's a lot more going on to Fall Be Kind than you first thought.