Release Date: May 6, 2008
Record label: Paradise
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
Animal Collective have been making experimental indie rock for about eight years, but 2007 definitely saw them come of age. That was when they released the critically acclaimed Strawberry Jam, a compelling and complex pop disc that landed them on countless year-end best-of lists. Thankfully, the group had a few tunes left over from that recording session.
There’s a central conflict burrowed deep within the furrows of Animal Collective, one that isn’t confined to the EP Water Curses, but since that’s the object d’art in front of us, it will do as our entryway into the discussion. The problematic is this: Animal Collective’s striking melodies and experimentation within the pop-song format – pushing it into non-repeating areas, for example – obscures some deeper concerns with certain racist and classist ideas (all unintentional, I would believe). Although Kandia Crazy Horse’s prose is a bit purple, her article “Race, Rock and the New Weird America” leveled a fantastic race critique at the whole freak-folk movement (the label, after-the-fact, combining such disparate musicians as Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective and others that otherwise had nothing to do with each other).