Review: Animal Collective's Fall Be Kind

Animal Collective’s new EP, Fall Be Kind, will be getting it’s physical release in a week on the 15th. The EP, the band’s fourth in their career, is following in it’s predecessor’s footsteps a bit. This is, I’m assuming, due to the fact that some of these songs were written at the same time as the material heard on the band’s last full-length, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and thus retain some of the musical style.

Now, when I say some, I only mean some. This EP, like everything else the band has made since their inception, is a product of creative growth over time and stands out on it’s own two mangled feet as has each release before it. This is a good thing. And now, I give you my two cents on the five tracks this EP has to offer. Beware: figurative language.

1. Graze
This song begins with some pretty little flutes like excited hummingbirds floating and flying about. It sounds like the score to someone waking up in the early morning and the feelings you would get during a really long yawn. The light-headedness, the adrenaline rush, all of that. Then it fades down and in come some cymbals and clapping that are leading us down a beaten path to one of two things: the first being frightening as all fuck, and the second being something amazingly beautiful. As we clear away the brush, we find that, as a matter of fact, it’s both. The first time I heard this brilliant transition I was dumbstruck, speechless, shocked, [insert synonym here] and a bit, ahem, ‘retarded in the face’ to quote a couple of passers by. But I was quickly snapped back into reality once the song takes a galloping pace through pop territory in ways so epic that they can only confirm that Animal Collective’s brand of creative innovation is forever-changing and, like aged wine, better with time.

2. What Would I Want? Sky
A familiar track to the more well-versed Animal Collective fan, this tune has been a staple of the band’s performance since the release of Merriweather earlier this year. The beats are written in a time signature that doesn’t see the light of day very often in the pop world, 7/4, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me. Also of note: this is the song with the infamous Grateful Dead sample which I’ve learned is a rearranged lyric from a song called “Unbroken Chain”. The vocals on this track carry the mood of the listener around this new magical world found in Fall Be Kind. Almost like you’re falling through the sky laying on a leaf that is swaying back in forth in 7/4.

3. Bleed
This track is atmospheric and very, very chill. Vocals fading in and out of nowhere, if you close your eyes it’s like you’re standing in a dimly lit rain forest and these spirits are flying around and singing to you. Telling you a tale that paints the trees a grim red for use as props in their story.

4. On A Highway
This track gave me a bit of a haunting feeling at first. It begins with field recordings of, you guessed it, cars passing by on a highway. This feels like the soundtrack to reminiscing about a bad memory; something you would wish to forget. In this song’s case, traumatic events that took place on a highway. Very eerily written but it leaves a lasting effect on you because of it.

5. I Think I Can
The final track on this wondrous journey of an EP begins with bird noises. Presumably, you’re being taken through the sky by this song. Higher and higher you seem to go until you reach this plateau where the vocals and beat are playing this very tribal tune. At that point, the song takes a familiar turn that has become a signature move in Animal Collective’s music, the repetition-of-one-lyric-as-emphasis point. Normally, it brings the song to it’s climax and keeps the energy as the music slowly fades out. However, in this case, it brings you up and slowly lets you down before fading away. Almost as if it’s meant to bring you at ease before it bids you farewell.

(Fall Be Kind, Domino Records 2009)


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