Worst album art they've ever had! Now that's out of the way- Strawberry Jam is the first four tracks of Feels with a bit less revirbing dream scape and a lot more melody. Strawberry Jam is all about melody throughout, somethings that Animal Collective usually only pays attention to on a handful of openers.The backwash of lulling noise is also paired down. Strawberry Jam is rowdier, more robust, and absolutely full to the brim with exploding layers of sound. This is the most accessible album we've seen from them. Avey's vocals have also transformed, or a least just seem to be more forced. On older albums his vocals seemed to have a greater range, now its pushed all the time with the occasional bursts of screaming that we have all come to adore so much. The lyrics are fresh. Avey appears to have written whatever was on his mind, there is no pretense there. Strawberry Jam is as creative as it gets, but I definitely miss having a long drawn out drone builder somewhere in the middle of the album, which made older releases feel a bit like soundtracks. Strawberry Jam is a solid record. The first time I heard some of these tracks (when they played In The Venue this summer) I wasn't so sure about the dance music infused pop melody contortions I was hearing. Listening to the recorded album was an instant hit though, and maybe that is what is missing in this release. All the tracks are hit tracks (thank goodness for "#1"), there is a lot of movement but it never seems to dip low into the piecing tracks, and although I love the new direction and I definitely love Strawberry Jam, I must admit I am a little worried that if they keep up the direction they are headed in they may just loose those special little things about them and become overplayed psych-pop. I highly doubt it, but I can't help but worry that the magic will fade with each "more accessible" release. 2007 is the year of AC, with Avey and Panda releasing acclaimed albums, The People EP rocking my world and another EP due out before year end, you would think one would get sick of the band, but it seems impossible when in so many people's eyes, including my own, Animal Collective can virtually do no wrong. Listening to them is a revelatory experience and Strawberry Jam is no exception, even though it isn't quite as wonderfully diverse as past releases.