Review Summary: "So I was walking down a dark alleyway at night, with my iPod in listening to Fall Be Kind, and then some guy mugged me and stole my wallet and my iPod."
We were all thinking alike at the time. Animal Collective announced the release of their EP, Fall Be Kind in late 2009. Everybody thought the same thing- How could the Collective possibly put out decent material with their recent masterpiece Merriweather Post Pavillion being released in the same year? Merriweather sounded like they had poured all of their hard work and soul into a single disc without a single drop left for any other material. There may have been some time to put together five good tracks seeing as the two releases are on completely opposite ends of the calendar, but there are very few sets of musicians badass enough to release two fantastic sets of material within the same twelve months. But this crazy bunch of animals apparently has it in them. Earlier in the year, shortly after the release of Merriweather, a new Animal Collective track had been circling around the internet. What Would I Want? Sky was something that sounded very different from what we could expect from the collective. It contained a very different rendition of the trippy sound that the group usually has been known to chrun out. The spacey synths and percussions with some Grateful Dead samples mixed in created such an obscure sound that not even Avey and the gang would assemble. All 7 minutes of the song however, are fantastic in every way. With expectations for the EP being fairly low, the track gave fans ideas that maybe their second 2009 release would be pretty excelent after all.
But there is something that is very unusual about the tone of some of the music that could be found on Fall Be Kind. Aside from Graze and What Would I Want? Sky, the EP presents more of a darker tone than what Animal Collective would usually bring to the table. The third track, Bleed, creates a slow, depressing soundscape with low, looming synth chords and echoey backing vocals. It almost becomes apparent that the Collective has gone through yet another transformation between the release of Merriwether and Fall Be Kind. The track that follows Bleed is my personal least favorite on the disc, On A Highway. It seems to follow the same format as the song before, except with some added percussion. A flaw with this song is that it sounds a bit too much like Bleed. It might be harder to notice if they weren’t played back to back, but they were put together which made the comparison quite apparent. Closing the EP is the wondorously wonderful I Think I Can, which keeps the same tone as the previous two tracks and (thankfully) doesn’t sound very much like either of them. The catchy beat of handclaps, snaps and stomps drive along for five minutes before moving into a rather absent-minded two minute bouncy closing that is certainly more reminicent of the days from Feels.
As a conclusion, Fall Be Kind is probably the best half hour of music that any of us have heard this year. Animal Collective proved most of us wrong and managed to release their second disc of 2009 without bombing it. But although everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the direction that the group was taking with Merriweather Post Pavillion, it seems that they have thrown a curveball that went back to the Feels era. But without comparing the disc as a whole to their previous works, the sound tends to vary throughout the EP. For example, Graze sounds like a track that would have fit quite swell in Feels. What Would I Want? Sky (athough sounding completely different than anything they have ever done) may have done nicely in Merriweather Post Pavillion. The final three tracks don’t seem to fit in anywhere in the Collective’s discography, which is in no way a bad thing. Fall Be Kind is Animal Collective moving into new territory. It shows us just about how experimental they mean when they call themselves experimental. Fall Be Kind is a sign that Animal Collective is just leaving the base of their career’s peak, and the summit is almost near.