A purist might say that there is no room in journalism for personal ambition. However, a journalist would probably say there is no room for purity in personal ambition, so I, in an attempt to carve my name on some sort of John Peel tree of life will try to coin a new genre name. “Folk-fi”, “Prog-intellifolk” or “neo-beefheartshaggery”, however, don’t come close to the essence of this latest release from the Animal Collective. If you’ll excuse me for entering the domain of the indigenous Copout people of NMEland, this record somewhat defies categorisation. Messrs Avey Tare and Panda Bear (possibly a pseudonym) have created a gloriously insane monster of a record, sounding like Brian Wilson, Paul Simon and Neil Young conducted by Salvador Dali.
“Who could win a rabbit” features an intricate vocal melody that recalls The Shaggs whilst the beautiful “Winters Love” breathes a melody so intoxicating it will stay trapped within your soul and taunt your last dying hours with its pathetic brilliance. “College”, reminiscent of the Beach Boys’ “Our Prayer”, is a beautiful vocal harmony which concludes with the chorus “you don’t have to go to college.” This is less a prayer than a jibe at the American middle class religion of success, perhaps. “Mouth Wooed Her” compresses all the impatience and zest of youth into a couple minutes as Tare and Bare jump their measured syncopations and furiously strum in tandem. The production is also breathtaking; the vocals on the last song, “Whaddit Done”, sound like they are bubbling in a cauldron. It needs to be listened to be believed.
As a whole, the record has the same cookie infectiousness that Beefheart and early ultra-lo-fi Pavement had, although there are occasional moments of frustration where the record seems to loose focus. It seems the only category that this record can be filed under is “Animal Collective”.