Review ·

There are many reasons why it seems so weird that Animal Collective, a group of New York noise-rock semi-weirdoes, can move nearly 150,000 albums, become your sister’s favorite band and break through to an audience that probably thought the band “sucked” 15 months ago. One of those reasons is Campfire Songs, the third album by the Collective, which is being reissued due to the set going out of print recently. It’s the album that validates every criticism lobbed at Merriweather Post Pavilion: It’s aimless, tuneless, and weird for weird’s sake, and it’s nearly impossible to get through.

 

Recorded on a porch in one marathon take, Campfire Songs is the most natural Animal Collective release. However, the "natural" part has less to do with it being recorded outside and more  to do with the fact that Geologist, whose sound sculpting is more or less Animal Collective’s sonic fingerprint, doesn’t play on this one. Instead, Deakin, Avey Tare and Panda Bear wield acoustic guitars as they moan vaguely comprehensible lyrics underneath a building tsunami of grating tape hiss on tracks with titles like “Doggy” and “Moo Rah Rah Rain.” If you want to trace the evolution of chillwave, Campfire Songs is obviously the Rosetta Stone and the Ark of the Covenant combined.

 

It’s tempting to try to claim that there’s some trace of what was to come in the near future, but with Campfire Songs that’d require some self-delusion. This isn’t some lost early album that is as good as the new stuff; Campfire Songs might be the weakest entry in Animal Collective’s catalog. The album is the aural document of a young band blowing 45 minutes on a porch and hoping  in vain for some kind of transcendent musical revelation. 

 

***

Band: http://www.animalcollective.org

Label: http://www.paw-tracks.com

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/animalcollective

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This is probably my second favorite Animal Collective LP behind Here Comes The Indian...Deakin doesn't play on Sung Tongs either (it's just Avey & Panda) and that's widely considered their breakthrough release. Lots of beauty on this record.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/MFB/profilepicjpg.jpg MFB

It's a bit presumptuous to credit any one member with being the architect of this band's sound when there have been so many different permutations of "Animal Collective." If anything, it's Avey and Panda's band. Those guys are on every record. Campfire Songs is all right tho. I kinda like it...

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

it's funny that you gave a 4/10 to an album that you say is "nearly impossible to get through."

brad

terrible review. reviewing animal collective is touchy. and geologist is not the "sonic fingerprint" of the band, as you claim

cheeba

The author of this article clearly hasn't heard 'Danse Manatee' by these guys. that album IS impossible to get through. This album, however, is somewhat enjoyable. Certainly not their strongest release, but a damn good one nonetheless.

Jay

Definitely a crucial of the band's "screw everything except what we want to do phase." This band only started to work backwards towards actually appealing to fans outside their porch (literally or figuratively) around Sung Tongs, and even then there were 20 minute stretches of pointlessness.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Ethan/nirvana-corporate-rock-whoresjpg.jpg EStan

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