Animal Collective has released their ninth studio recording. I don’t necessarily feel like the most qualified person to be typing about this band/musical collective, because I haven’t followed their career trajectory very closely. I’m mostly familiar with the more well known tracks on Merriweather and some of the earlier stuff, like Danse Manatee and Spirit They’re Gone…
For those of you out there that still haven’t heard Summertime Clothes or My Girls, Animal Collective is definitely one of those bands that the critics and the fans can agree on. This album is pretty well spot on from beginning to end, replete with melody, layered rhythms, and trippy oscillating noises. The tunefulness of the songs, their actual sing-songy quality, is balanced by the trippy element. Check out Rosie Oh, the third track. The song is built around the vocal line, which is actually sung, in key. The song has a clearly defined structure and that subliminal sense of internal coherence that all well constructed songs have. Its ‘arrangement’ consists of track after track of tripped out timbres, layered one atop the other, and this group’s apparent interest in placing the vocals very prominently in the mix.
Continuing on, it soon becomes apparent that the songs themselves, stripped bare of the production, would reduce to a couple of elements. Generally speaking, these guys remind me of Basement Jaxx, not in terms of their aesthetic, but in terms of the fact that the song writing is solid and effective because it’s straight and to the point, devoid of any misguided excess.
To continue the comparison, the arranging side of things, including instrumentation, timbre, rhythmic layering and the like, serve to flesh out the skeleton of the song, and draw out the emotional life of the music. The crazy sounds aren’t just for show, in other words, but are intrinsic to the creative process; and this is how I hear the music of Basement Jaxx as well.
Another interesting thing about this album is the use of sound to fill in the space between songs; the album takes on the guise of some kind of organism, breathing with its own life.
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