Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

Animal Collective
Strawberry Jam
(09.2007, Domino)

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.



Anonymous said...

i agree. this album is amazing! which songs do you consider to be the highlight of the album?

sassigrass said...

I really love "Chores" and "Winter Wonder Land". Most people I have read (including Mr. Thistle) seem to be in love with "For Reverend Green" and "Fireworks". I don't know, I love "Derek" too! The whole album is awesome. It's hard to single out tracks when the entire album works so well together

Mr. Thistle said...

Yep, "For Reverend Green" and "Fireworks" are it! 9.5!

machu pichu said...

my favorite tracks are "#1", "winter wonderland", and "cuckoo cuckoo". they are the only tracks that i can listen to on repeat. i'm thinking all the layered and unique sounds are forgettable yet very good so you keep coming back to the song in order to get a reminder of how cool the sounds are, like the slide flute in "#1" and the high pitched background vocals during the "we're all going cuckoo..." part, the drumming, and other amazing textured sounds throughout in "cuckoo cuckoo". "winter wonderland" reminds me of a certain oldies or 80's song that i can't quite point out but brings out nostalgic feelings. a better version of course.
i found some of the repeating lines at the end of "peacebone" and "for reverend green" a little repetitive. some songs had a catchy dancy rhythm that made me move my body, but i wasn't really feeling the outcome of the song, and stopped moving during the middle.
though, the album is definately another great addition to the collection of the collective.
i wonder what they will do next.

Greg said...

more like the BEST album art they've ever had! have you looked inside the LP sleeves?

also this is my favorite album of all time