Animal Collective
Strawberry Jam


4.0
excellent

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
September 4th, 2007 | 120 replies | 21,682 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Animal Collective are really good. Even John Norris knows what's up.

There are a couple things one would expect to see when he turns on MTV at around 11:00, reruns of dating shows most likely, or perhaps, on an off night, a music video or two. But no, the scene is as follows; 11:00, an unsuspecting Tuesday night, a TV comes on; MTV News is running some kind of story “breaking” a “new” band:

“A genre-bending four piece from Baltimore, Animal Collective have had a surprising influence on the indie scene over the past 5 years”

John Norris begins his news report like any other. Remote hits floor, butt plants firmly in seat. Avey Tare’s ugly mug wasn’t the last thing I expected to see impregnate channel 56’s rotation schedule, but it was pretty ****ing close. Animal Collective have a new record out though, and they’ve been one of the most interesting bands around for a while now, so I guess it’s to be expected.

It can be said however, that the average ‘Date My Mom’ fan won’t find what he’s looking for on Strawberry Jam, though I think the bigger question here may be: Will the average Animal Collective fan? Strawberry Jam is big step away from Feels (the band’s last release, considered by some to be one of the band’s best) in many departments; though it’s hard to say which direction the band appear to be going in. For one thing, Jam’s mix is considerably drier then previous Animal Collective works (though it’s still far from the lo-fi fuzz of 2000’s criminally underappreciated Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished) and the vocals are loads louder than they’ve ever been; which takes some getting used to. For another The Collective (or as John Norris seems to like to call them, The Animals) haven’t done this much shouting since their days pre-FatCat Records (Jam is the band’s debut for Domino.) Upon first listen, songs sound half-baked, lazy or even annoying (an adjective a surprising number of folks seem to favor when describing the band) and it takes a couple solid listens to finally crack the crust and begin to appreciate the album for what it is: a masterpiece.

OK, so masterpiece is a bit excessive, but Strawberry Jam is certainly a completely “baked” album (interpret that however you want.) At this point, most know that both Panda Bear and Avey Tare have released solo (or at least solo in the sense that they were apart from their Collective-mates) records in 2007, both of which met some sort of critical acclaim (the one that plays forwards more so.) With this in mind, the fact that Jam is even enjoyable is some kind of otherworldly achievement, but this borders on frightening. Brilliance comes early and often within the first half of Strawberry Jam. After a woefully disappointing album opener, Unsolved Mysteries is definitely a relief. The song has a distinctly folksy vibe to its verse, harking back to the band’s Sung Tongs days, but its chorus, full of watery effects and feral grunting is something completely new and completely cool. Songs on Strawberry Jam flow loosely, with Panda’s spazzin’ drums going one direction and Geologist’s sounds ‘n’ stuff in another. Chores’ dynamic change from flailing pop to moody drones (captured perfectly in the beautiful chord change that takes place at around 1:45) is stunning as well, but the next track, fourth for those counting, is where Animal Collective really hit their mark.

For Reverend Green is truly stunning. It shares certain elements with first single (and aforementioned “woefully disappointing album opener”) Peacebone, but Tare’s uncharacteristically emotional vocals set the song apart from its contemporaries instantly. Avey Tare might be the only human alive who sounds more normal singing about being in love with a horny specter (April And The Phantom) as opposed to human love, as presented here, but he does both truly wonderfully. The band (which also includes a guitarist, Deakin, as well as the other, previously mentioned folks) crafts a hell of tune for Tare to express his feelings over. Huge, tremolo guitar sounds bury Panda’s tribal drum-pounding, while another guitar, smudged lovingly into the painting, supplies the song with its gorgeous melody line.

Fireworks is a great song too. ****, they’re all great. Animal Collective is a completely different beast on Strawberry Jam, and it’s beautiful at times, it really is. It kind of chokes me up. And oddly enough, I have all the more respect for them now that they’ve hit the big time (what, with MTV knocking on their door and all that garbage.) Though what I’ve heard about them performing live as a guitar-less hip-hop trio has me kind of skeptical, but I guess that’s an entirely different review.

- Joe



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user ratings (1207)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
For Meatplow (4.5)
I believe in happiness, do you?...

Alex Robertson STAFF (4)
Strawberry Jam, being one of Animal Collective's most varied release, is also one of their most acce...

Paul blart (4)
After all the dicking-around with "freak folk" and before the bloated "Merriweather Post Pavillion",...

Dylan S. (4.5)
A work of art by a band with big visions, and even bigger creations....


Comments:Add a Comment 
The Door Mouse
September 4th 2007



2092 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have this. I should probably listen to it sometime soon.

blackmilk
September 4th 2007



584 Comments


definitely not a four, but it's good.

Shivan
September 4th 2007



3 Comments


For Reverend Green just might be the best song this year.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 4th 2007



2806 Comments


You use a lot of parenthesesesesese in this review. Still well written though.

I don't have any Animal Collective and I don't think I'm going to start here.

The Jungler
September 4th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd start with Feels.

You use a lot of parenthesesesesese in this review.
yeah, I know :/

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 4th 2007



4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am quite excited to get this. nice review

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 4th 2007



6093 Comments


This is a really good review. I was gonna do this, but you summed it up pretty well. As for the album, it has worn off considerably. 'For Reverend Green' is still one of the best songs they've ever done.This Message Edited On 09.04.07

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 4th 2007



4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i wanna hear itttttt

The Door Mouse
September 4th 2007



2092 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Upon first listen, this was good. Much better than Person Pitch.

Zebra
Moderator
September 4th 2007



2647 Comments


This album was a big letdown for me. Sung Tongs, Feels, and even Here Comes the Indian were all great albums but I found most of the material on this very annoying. I'll give it another listen in the near future but it really seems like they overdid the quirkiness.

sgrevs
September 5th 2007



698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've only heard Peacebone and I really liked it. I saw the video as well, and it was some freaky shi. Great review though, I'll have to get this soon.

Fort23
September 5th 2007



2475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I still have to realy listen to feels. I have it, but I keep getting distracted. Great review though. Now I know hat you mean about MTV reporting on the band.

The Jungler
September 5th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=zepdude]Much better than Person Pitch.[/quote]I disagree. Both great albums, but Person Pitch is better.[quote=sgrevs]I saw the video as well, and it was some freaky shi.[/quote]for sure, that video is bizarre.
Thanks for all the comments/feedback guys.

Two-Headed Boy
September 5th 2007



4527 Comments


Horrible album art.

Great review.

Fort23
September 5th 2007



2475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What exactly is that on the cover?

The Jungler
September 5th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Is that a joke? Look at the album title.
but yeah, album art sucks, especially compared to some of Animal Collective's other covers.

JAD
September 5th 2007



200 Comments


I'm just getting into Animal Collective, should I start with this or Feels?

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2007



6093 Comments


Feels.

Broken Arrow
September 5th 2007



220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album 4 or 4.5 from me. Definetly grows on you after a couple of listens.

I'm going to see them on Saturday :cool:

br3ad_man
Emeritus
September 5th 2007



2125 Comments


I'm kinda turned off this band since seeing them live and so I haven't heard this yet. I probably will at some point though.



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