Review Summary: After all the dicking-around with "freak folk" and before the bloated "Merriweather Post Pavillion", Animal Collective blend a mix of sugar fueled, orchestrated, synth drenched pop gem that stands out as their best. Oddly enough, this is the only dance mu
1.(Any of various low-growing plants of the genus Fragaria, having white flowers and an aggregate fruit that consists of a red fleshy edible receptacle and numerous seed like fruitlets.)
2. (The aggregate fruit of this plant.)
1. (A preserve made from whole fruit boiled to a pulp with sugar.)
I'm sure you've all tasted the aforementioned concoction. A space age mass of neon brightness and sugar cane sweetness. So odd it is, that something so very natural lends it's flavors to something manufactured, packaged, and shipped to be held in tiny dishes at run down diners. However, I don't think those circumstances really get in the way of the taste; so naturally sweet yet so very manufactured.
It's hard to doubt that this album titles really describes the sound of this album in such a perfect way. Gone are Animal Collective's folky side, and enter a rush of sugar charged endorphins. Acoustic guitars are scarce, and instead replaced with buzzing synth, layers of spacey orchestras, and samples twisted and melded and melted all over the delicious bowl of...whatever this is. I'm not trying to make the AC guys sound like geniuses, but goddamn, can they sure write a pop song.
With "Strawberry Jam" I can safely say that I'm an Animal Collective fan. Though past albums have lulled me far too many times with "natural ambient" (what I mean by that is, slow, ambient like music played with acoustic guitars and REAL instruments), I can look past their mistakes and pick the sweet, sweet fruits from the tree of their labor, and goddamn are they fantastic. The doubled header of the singles "Peacebone" and "Fireworks" was enough to convince me these guys were fantastic. Both chug along at the same tempo, yet both feel distinctively different. "Peacebone" explodes in euphoric falsetto choruses, carnival keyboards, and a swirl of psychedelics mixing into one noxious, yet enticing mess. "Fireworks", on the other hand, is a bit more understated, yet the feeling is there. The feeling of riding that song on a roller coaster, it's such a vivid image and feeling you get when you listen to the song chug along, that I often find myself increasingly jumping around, higher and higher, and banging my head in euphoric ecstasy.
The rest of the songs on here aren't as good, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad. "Chores" brings the energy of the aforementioned singles, yet it falls together in just a fun, silly, mess of a song. "For Reverend Green" just swaggers and sways in Beach Boys-esc orchestration as you're wrapped in vocal harmonies and schizophrenic jumps from gentle falsetto and strained screaming. However, it's only after "Fireworks" that the energy sorts of fizzles out, the melodies are less memorable, yet still, that same unique sound is there. That sweet, sweet "Strawberry Jam" sound still oozes over the following tracks, ending in what can only be described as a Christmas morning chant.
And before you can really actually start to get sick of the record it's over. In this day and age, it's hard to really see many records willing to not stretch its ideas out too far, and Animal Collective executes this balance perfectly. Just like a packet of strawberry jam, it's gone in the blink of an eye, yet that sweet taste still remains smeared across your face.