Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
Paw prints in the sand that mark the trail of Animal Collective are so varied, not even the most accomplished hunter or tracker could make heads or tails of them. Each of the collective's four members have spent various amounts of time on various projects, most often in collaboration with each other under various monickers. Their evolution has been grand to witness; from their noisy post-rock leanings slowly into a more future-pop oriented outfit. The mellow, freewheelin' Feels took the core sound and extrapolated grooves and hooks that were seemingly always drifting through the ether of past Animal Collective works. However, Strawberry Jam sets out to redefine the redefinition, furthering the establishment of not only a unique style, but perhaps one that warrants it's own genre classification.
More than ever before, Panda, Avey Tare and the rest of the pack are showing a comfort with writing songs as opposed to hefty lengths of fuzz and noise masquerading as epics. It's a step in the right direction, and it feels so natural that being surprised by it is the most surprising thing of all. "Peacebone" showcases the full-bore effect of experimentation-through-psychadelica. Between the cheery vocal trade-offs, and a melody lifted honorably from Aphex Twin's "Donkey Rhubarb", a picture of a floating carnival in the sky should emerge. The breeziness of their sound belies the subtle complication, as so many ideas are firmly tied together and wrapped in a warm, inviting texture.
"Chores" is one of my favorites, a song that should bring the crowds alive on the road. That familiar guitar sound, a slow tremolo twang locked into a simple melodic hook, is such a thrill to hear not only hear but whenever the band decides to incorporate it. It is that singular technique that tends to give their songs so much open air and space to roam. For a trip to the utter depths of experimental insanity, look no further than "#1" and it's swirling synth melody, vocal effects aplenty and a thunder-in-the-distance bassdrum that seems to float in and out of range. Hypnotic.
I can't say enough good for Strawberry Jam, there isn't a truly bad song in the bunch and more than any other Animal Collective album it manages to grasp you and keep you hooked until the end, fusing familiar pop structures with all the experimentation and ethereal spirits that have graced their previous records. One complaint towards their older material is that it was often undirected and aimless, at least to my humble ears. It's good to hear a more focused, attentive and prepared Animal Collective this time around. There's no doubt they're at the top of their game right now.
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on 2008-04-30 kev_stev Said:
this album reminds me of a mix-tape that some cool indie kid would send me. it's not exactly cohesive, but sounds like the group took the time to make it flow, with each track having so much personality and atmosphere, each stands on its own. STRAWBERRY JAM sounds like a collection of someone's top 9 bands' best songs, who, coincidentally, all have a strange penchant for weird electronic noises.
on 2007-10-02 kev_stev Said:
awesome review man! this album was definitely a step in the right direction
on 2007-09-29 dscanland Said:
Ha, you suck. I was just going to do this one. Oh well, I'm glad I checked first. I'll post my comments after a few more listens.
on 2007-08-16 b0arder753 Said:
Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam marks experimental band number two’s departure from true experimentation to a more comfortable, song-oriented, structured feel (the other is Liars’ self-titled release). Although they have taken a step towards a more approachable sound, this still does not make the album sound ready for the mainstream’s ear. Sung Tongs is still their banner album, but Strawberry Jam is the Animal Collective album that’ll get people who are just starting to dip into underground music into the more experimental side. I’m not exactly sure how they manage to do it, but Animal Collective can take the most absurd noise and turn it into a pop gem. This was definitely the case on Sung Tongs, Animal Collective’s arguably most strange, yet catchy album. Strawberry Jam, on the other hand is more structured in a pop foundation (I won’t bother name-dropping the usual comparisons, they’re generally too bs anyways). It’s swirling, atmospheric textures made of cut-up noise and spliced sound manages to create brilliant beats and really exalts each song, taking it from interesting to awesome. Wait, there’s more! New and improved Animal Collective Strawberry Jam comes complete with lyrics--- that are not nonsensical! Not every song has intelligible lyrics of course, but the majority of the songs actually do. Surprisingly, for a band that specializes in making music with their mouth while letting the music speak for itself, the lyrics aren’t painful. In fact, they seem to be fine (I must admit that I still have a tendency to hear it all as sound, rather than picking out lines like I would do with most bands, but… It’s Animal Collective!). When it comes down to it, I imagine that Panda Bear’s direction with his solo material is what altered Animal Collective’s direction as a band. I’m not going to complain and they won’t either, this music would set someone up perfectly to listen to some of the more adventurous, peculiar avant-garde. Check Out: “For Reverend Green”- Animal Collective (and every other track you can get your hands on)