Animal Collective
Danse Manatee


2.0
poor

Review

by Alex Robertson STAFF
August 27th, 2009 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And I didn't even like their first album that much.

In a way, Animal Collective's Danse Manatee parallels Radiohead's Kid A. After releasing an almost-universally loved album, the band experiments with electronics and create something truly unique, whether the audience likes it or not. However, there is a vital difference between the two albums: people actually liked Kid A. Any Animal Collective fan has heard it before, but the fact remains: everyone hated Danse Manatee. Pitchfork hated it. Fans hated it. The people who loved Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished hated it. The people who hated Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished hated it. However, aside from some hardcore fans, there's a notable exception: the band. Band member Geologist, who joined the Collective on this album, has said that it's possibly his favorite album by them, and band members have stated that they're proud of the album. But why did they have to make it such a mind-bogglingly disjointed album, essentially cutting off the listeners from whatever fun the band was having?

Being fair, there are a few points scattered along the album that allow the listener to hear this sort of masqueraded brilliance that only the band seemed to have witnessed: "Runnin the Round Ball," possibly the best track here, is an exciting romp, featuring dark guitars, thumping drums, and childish chants. It shows Animal Collective honing in their electronic skills to create something, well, listenable (unlike most of the album). However, the song barely reaches over two minutes, and could have been easily categorized as filler on any other, superior album.

"Essplode" is also a standout, and essentially does what Spirit did best: create an engaging pop song buried under delicate layers of noise. However, the band take it a tad too far here, and instead of complementing the song, the high pitched oscillating noise they give the song only serves to distract from it. "Essplode" serves as a good example of why Danse Manatee is so disappointing: instead of writing great songs (which they are, as seen on Spirit, completely capable of), they let their tendency to abstract the songs with slabs of noise and fuzz take over.

Of course, even that's better when they're not even trying at all. "Penguin Penguin," entering after opener "A Manatee Dance," features Avey Tare's spiked vocals over seemingly random guitar and drum patterns. The song seems to have been the result of being commanded to "play as fast as you can". No surprises that, when combined with the usual high-pitched squeals, it's nigh unlistenable. A similar problem plagues "Meet the Light Child," which also features spontaneous percussion and noise rhythms. Unlike "Penguin Penguin," however, it goes on for almost nine minutes.

In the midst of experimental failures, another standout is "Ahhh Good Country," in which just about nothing happens over the course of eight minutes. Simply put, the results of nothing happening on Danse Manatee are a lot more pleasant than the results of "music" being played on Danse Manatee. "The Living Toys" also tries this, with less success. While "Ahhh Good Country" slowly builds up, "The Living Toys" wanders for about five minutes before suddenly hitting the same kind of random crescendos and rhythms that plagues "Penguin Penguin" and "Meet the Light Child".

So, because of their inability to control their own music, the band never hit the heights of Spirit standouts "Chocolate Girl" and "April and the Phantom". However, some songs, at best, seem like B-sides from that album. The aforementioned "Essplode" carries a quite Spirit-esque melody to it, while album closer "In The Singing Box," with its swinging rhythm and bouncing bassline, finally seems to signal a return to the superior poppy structures of their first album.

Undoubtably, the band aren't just giving lip service when suggesting this could be one of their best albums. It's understandable that the album could have been much fun to make. If only it was fun, at all, to listen to.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2009


15050 Comments


essplode is a good song tho

and runnin the round ball

essplode
August 27th 2009


92 Comments


what i meant to say was something relevant, like "good review, i like this as much as i like any other animal collective album if
the mood strikes, but for the most part agreed. odd pleasures, though"

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2009


15050 Comments


huh

did you say something different and then edit it



iarescientists
August 27th 2009


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

yeah dude shit sucks so hard

AggravatedYeti
August 27th 2009


7685 Comments


^ bingo

iarescientists
August 27th 2009


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

stop trying to be my boyfriend

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2009


15050 Comments


break it up you two

iarescientists
August 27th 2009


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

i'm not that kind of dude, bro

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2009


15050 Comments


sorry bro

jeez this album sucks wish i was listening to jack johnson

illmitch
August 27th 2009


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

this is a great review. i got the first two albums together and i love Spirit (it might be one of my favorites) but can't stand danse manatee.

Waior
August 27th 2009


11454 Comments


First paragraph is gold.

sgrevs
August 27th 2009


698 Comments


Decent album but it's got nothing on everything post-Indian.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2009


15050 Comments


god, this is garbage.

'essplode' and 'runnin the round ball' are both 'pretty good'

'throwin the round ball', 'ahhh good country' and 'in the singing box' are 'tolerable'


the rest is shit

kitsch
November 22nd 2009


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i dont really like this cept for essplode but i dont really hate it either.

one of my friends claims this is his 2nd fav album by them, behind mpp

idk i think he must be smoking crack

Kiran
Emeritus
November 23rd 2009


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

one of my friends claims this is his 2nd fav album by them, behind mpp

lol i've met someone at a show who said the same thing. he was one of those typical music snobs who thinks the quality of music is proportional to how difficult it is.

kitsch
November 23rd 2009


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hahaha, yea i bet he likes a shit load of prog and tech grind too right?

Enotron
December 10th 2009


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

penguin, penguin is silly...........

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 10th 2009


15050 Comments


opinion is still of what i posted like three or four above

plane
Staff Reviewer
December 10th 2009


6094 Comments


Isn't that bad

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 10th 2009


15050 Comments


i have a feeling itd be better in a live setting a la hollinndagain or something


but theyre way past that point now



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