Review ·

For the first three minutes of "Graze," the first song on Fall Be Kind, the first Animal Collective release since Merriweather Post Pavilion, you think you're in for a run-of-the-mill follow-up EP, one destined to be packaged with the preceding LP someday. Three minutes in, however, Geologist gets tropical, the vocal harmonies kick in, and Avery Tare and Panda Bear start going crazy with keyboards and guitars. Suddenly, there's a lot more going on to Fall Be Kind than you first thought.

 

That kind of mid-song change of course and defiance of expectations is the kind of thing Animal Collective has mastered over the past decade. One of the reasons Merriweather was such a success was that it built on those developments without having to resort to trickery.

 

Fall Be Kind is something of a throwback to the band's Sung Tongs/Feels era, where the payoffs were the result of long stretches of atmospherics. It's a lot more mature than those albums were -- everyone in the band is older and better tuned in to their place in pop music -- but the same kind of mitigated expectations run rampant.

 

"Graze," without a doubt the highlight of Fall Be Kind, sounds like a three-part pop-song suite with the third part cut off. If "Bohemian Rhapsody" never kicked into hard rock, or if "Paranoid Android" stopped four minutes in, would they be the same song? They probably wouldn't be nearly as popular, but they'd still get art schoolers and musicologists a hell of a lot more interested in what's next.

 

Yet, the payoff you wait for over Fall Be Kind's 28 minutes never comes. After one listen, you instantly crave more. The resulting repeatedly listens inevitably add a lot of sonic touches to your consciousness. This is why Animal Collective goes directly to the root of artistic obsession, and the fact that they can wholly pull off in such short order what it used to take a full album to accomplish is a rather remarkable sign of precision and maturity. Yet no matter how many layers you can unravel with Fall Be Kind (and you can rip through many in rapid succession), you never get the payoff you craved on first listen.

 

The major criticism of Animal Collective has been the band's proclivity to bewilder listeners more than give them the pop songs they want. It's difficult to criticize Merriweather on those terms, but it applies a lot more to Fall Be Kind. What's worse, that bewilderment prevents Fall Be Kind from being what the best Animal Collective releases always are: fun. 

 

Midway through closer "I Think I Can," the lyrical repetition makes you think something huge is going to close the album. But yet again, you've been had, as the song fades away nondescriptly. Thus, by the end of Fall Be Kind, you are completely drained, as drained as any five-song EP could ever leave you. The reward for your diligence never comes.

 

It took a decade of delicious bait for the members of Animal Collective to draw us in hook, line, and sinker. It remains to be seen whether they can do anything but repeat the same fishing trip.

 

***

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

Label: http://www.dominorecordco.com/

 

  • Graze
  • What Would I Want? Sky
  • Bleed
  • On A Highway
  • I Think I Can

So your last album had critics and bloggers alike drooling, scrambling for new superlatives to bestow upon your sound. Your hotly tipped live show is the toast of the festival circuit. What do you do next? Apparently taking the independent music world by storm with January's beloved Merriweather Post Pavilion wasn't enough for Animal Collective. The band recently announced the release of Fall Be Kind, a five-song EP of all-new material conceived around the same time as Merriweather. Singer Avey Tare describes the music as darker in tone than the summery Merriweather material. Tare and company are no strangers to sonic sea changes; no two Animal Collective records sound remotely similar. The droning, breakbeat-infused "What Would I Want? Sky" is notable for containing the first officially licensed Grateful Dead sample. Anticipation for this one is through the roof.

Gov't Mule - By A Thread Cave In EP

My only complaint is that it's not long enough! (Yes, I know what "EP" means. Just sayin'...)

/site_media/uploads/images/users/kwaping/hoodie_hat_headphones.jpg kwaping

I actually think this has a lot more variety than MMP, but lacks a bit of the energy that album has.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mfiander/profile.jpg mfiander

I freaking love it. Not an AnCo stan or anything, but "What Would I Want? Sky" is one of my favorite tracks all year. Still can't figure out what the purpose of "Bleed" is, but overall it's a pretty sick EP.

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

Yeah, I think the fact that "-stan" could be applied to AnCo is part of the problem with reviewing the band. I loved MPP, but the fact that internet seekers were demanding it to be a classic before it was even released I think scared off a lot of critics from being honest.

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

Yeah, I'm sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the absolutes of this review. "'Graze,' without a doubt the highlight of Fall Be Kind..."

I'm sorry, but I found "Graze" to be the most patience-testing of the lot, and "I Think I Can," with the syncopated interplay between the toms and lyrics, is one of the most perfect examples of Animal Collective's music illuminating their words. I would just appreciate a little more humility to other opinions in future reviews is all...

murmur

Sorry dude, but humility to other opinions as a rock critic kinda defeats the whole purpose of being a rock critic.

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

You tell 'em EStan!

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

flat out calling someone's opinions wrong and then demanding humility from them strikes me as kinda funny. Anyways...the problem with a critic-proof act like AnCo is that every review usually turns into a spoogefest. But then you get people who are turned off by all the hype and blame the band for it. Tough to find a critical balance with these guys.

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

Which is exactly why I chose to review the EP on musical and not cultural terms.

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

Why do you expect anything when listening to music? Destined to fail. Expectations always get in the way. Take it for what it is. A fantastic EP. I only have one tiny complaint and that is that "what would I want, sky" is a little too cookie-cutter for AC. I can't even complain about bleed .. I understand the purpose it serves. As far as "I think I can" it doesn't at all fade away, non-descript. Holy sh*tballs when I first heard the end I was beaming like I had a frign rainbow up my ass. BEST PART OF THE EP - No question about it. I didn't need it to get any better.. I had no expecations and was transported to pop heaven.

Mattydigs

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