Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bestest of 2005 #3: Animal Collective- Feels


So doing some background research for this review has inevitably led me to Prefix Mag, and I've noticed that whoever reviewed this record for them referred to it as a "Pop Masterpiece." A few minutes before this, I was over at Pitchfork where I read their reviewer's proclamation that some of the songs on Feels remind him of Buddy Holly. I might agree with these statements if I heard them at a dinner party and either didn't have time to think about them or wasn't really listening in the first place, but I'm not at a dinner party. Instead I'm sitting in my room listening to Feels on headphones as I read reviews (and now begin to type this one), and I have to say that listening to this album is in no way, shape or form like listening to a "Pop Masterpiece."

Sure, Feels is poppier than anything else Animal Collective has ever done. But thats mostly because of the first two songs. Yes, you can hear the Beach Boys influence in "Did You See the Words." But thats more or less the only song on the record that sounds in any way like traditional pop rock. Of course, "Turns Into Something" sort of sounds like a number from some musical that you would never see. But its comes off like it was written by Ken Kesey and performed by the Merry Pranksters. And ok, "Bees" sounds a little like Everything Must Pass era George Harrison, but it really sounds like a George Harrison song being covered by Jandek. And thats why its good. And thats why Animal Collective is good. At its core this music is floating, ethereal, and spacey experimental soundscape with a slight pinch of post punk self awareness added in so that you know these guys aren't a bunch of jackasses from the UNT jazz program or something. Theres also a slight pinch of 60's sunshine psyche pop. But its slight.

This is what keeps Animal Collective from being just another indie rock band while also keeping them out of the "difficult listen, over your head" category. Rarely does a record full of songs with such strange structures (or lack thereof), and an almost complete lack of choruses get itself so thoroughly stuck in your head. And rarely does a record that can be so catchy at times also challenge the listener as often as Feels does. Its a balance that few bands ever even think about, and one that is certainly hard to maintain. The little touches of pop in Feels keep you coming back for more, but the healthy helping of avant garde keeps you interested, and even dares you to finally go listen to that Jandek record that you're never been able to sit through.

13 Comments:

Blogger zak said...

This is my favorite AC record so far. Sung Tongs was great, but to me they seem to have figured out how to write great songs to complement the avant and experimental leanings.

Good review.

6:53 PM  
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this makes me VERY happy...

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