Most helpful positive review
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
how do they do it?
on 19 September 2007
Animal Collective have struck gold once again with their latest release, "Strawberry Jam". They are one of the few bands around who have a fresh approach with each album whilst retaining elements that made them so distinctive in the first place.
Some reviews for this album have mentioned that "Strawberry Jam" is their most accessible release so far but to be honest it's more abrasive and frantic than their previous album "Feels" which was dreamy and relaxed by comparison.
"Cuckoo Cuckoo" for example starts off slow and haunting before exploding into a chaotic burst of wild noise and intense vocals. "For Reverend Green" has short bursts of screaming too and the guitars sound pretty menacing and distorted.
What is more accessible, I suppose, is the tracks have a more traditional composition in that there are distinctive verse and chorus parts to the songs. Some of their previous work favoured longer more abstract structures that slowly unravelled and changed.
Animal Collective greatest strength is their ability to combine very strong melodies with experimental elements. "Peacebone" for example starts with a bizarre electronic noise that somehow merges itself into the guitar and drums (the video is fantastic by the way). "For Reverend Green" is intense but has some really melodic backing vocals (it's also my favourite track). "Fireworks" is playful and contains some catchy vocals, heavily treated guitar and melodic piano parts.
"Chores" and "Derek" appear to be sung by Panda Bear and the latter track certainly resembles something from "Person Pitch" which he released earlier this year. These tracks are light hearted and upbeat although still retaining the group's slightly odd approach to music.
However it is Avey Tares vocals that seem to dominate the album and appear higher in the mix than normal. Some people aren't keen on his vocal style but personally I love the way he uses his voice. His lyrics are occasionally surreal and sometimes there is a hint of sadness and nostalgia present.
The majority of "Strawberry Jam" is lively and psychedelic and the more relaxed and dreamy side to their music is almost completely absent. This is not to say that the album lacks atmosphere, far from it, but the focus seems to be on the noisier side of their collective personality. "# 1" is quite mellow except for the disturbing heavily treated vocals that give it a creepy edge. Samples and background noises are also more prominent too which gives the album another dimension.
So overall it is another great album, different but brilliant. The songs sound fresh and inspired and I've listened to nothing else since it was released. I've no idea what they'll do next but I can't wait.