Review Summary: "Fall Be Kind" gives us an Animal Collective showing off their most cohesive and consistent release yet; an EP nonetheless.
If “Merriweather Post Pavilion” proved anything about Animal Collective, it’s that the band has come a long ways from 10-minute, one guitar chord drones and avant-garde splatters of neon, folksy, paint clogging up their albums. It’s also proved that the band, like them or not, have really put an end to the age old debut, “Is it possible for music to continue being original?” I doubt it really matters either way, the fate of music will always be the same no matter how many innovations you contribute to it. However, Animal Collective at least find It in their venturing hearts to always try something different; not just from the sounds being transmitted over the radio, but from their indie peers as well.
They’ve journeyed long and far since their beginnings back in the late 90s. Always testing the limits to what they could do, and unsurprisingly, never fully coming clean with well rounded ideas. The work finally paid off when Noah Lennox (aka, Panda Bear) released his critically acclaimed solo album “Person Pitch”, which then influenced the sound that we would hear on the magnificent “Strawberry Jam” and “Merriweather Post Pavilion”. Samples replaced acoustic guitar loops, choral vocal harmonies replace quirky, quivering voices, and their sound has become so drenched with electronics and sound effects that it’s amazing that the band still sounds so human. Call it genius in the terms of song composition; but Animal Collective are the only band I’ve ever heard who could play purely electronic songs and still tap into that very natural tone that a guitar, horn, or violin gives off. Not cold detachment, but warm tones that remind you those human beings actually made this music.
“Fall be Kind”, the first studio release the band has given us since “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, is long enough to be considered a serious enough artistic statement, and short enough to justify a second listen once the last quivering alien transmission ends on the final track, “I Think I Can”. The album title and cover image paint the perfect image of what’s to come; the faded, fall-like feeling that the band painted back on “Sung Tongs” is repeated here, but instead, using the type of arrangements that made the wintery “Merriweather Post Pavilion” so great. In other words, with the winter months begun this is the perfect album to bring warm feelings to any frozen households.
Warm, and yet, icy landscapes sprawl fourth from “Graze”, the album opener. Chilly and delicately beautiful piano keys travel up and down as the choral vocals echo gracefully off in the distance, as silvery, shining tones fill in all the empty space around the track. However, proving that Animal Collective are still to be considered playful, half-way through the song (in a transition similar to that found on the Panda Bear track “Take Pills”, and just about a million times better) the song turns into some dorky, pan flute jig; another signature sing-along Animal Collective moment, indeed.
The second track proves to be that sole Animal Collective masterpiece guaranteed on nearly every Animal Collective album. That one song that just sticks out so far ahead of the rest, that soon you forget that the band even recorded any other song for the EP besides this one. What begins as a warm, layered textures akin to those found on “Loveless” (accompanied by a drum loop, which I believe may be the Grateful Dead sample included on this song), transforms into a joyous, galloping, mix of Animal Collective’s catchiest looped vocal and one of the most beautiful vocal harmony the band has ever crafted. Panda Bear and Avey Tare are no longer singing as two sides of the Animal Collective sound; they’ve perfectly fused into one, vocal melody machine. Hell, this song is just amazing, and If the weather weren’t so ***ty here in Michigan I would take the positive energy of this track and run around outside, basking in the sunlight. This is what I mean when I say Animal Collective make electronic music sound so human.
The rest of the EP shows off the spacier, “ambient” side of Animal Collective. However, by cutting down on the length, and tossing in delicious vocal arrangements, the band proves that they’ve really come a long way since they were playing lethargy inducing drones. It’s all a delicious mix of fantastic pop melody and looping, unforgettable passage ways. And through it all, the band radiates this sort of personal glow. Animal Collective has matured since the days of drunkenly repeating the lines “Meow. Kitties!” several time over, and show off their communal spirit, where each and every listener is invited in to sing along for once. Now that the band has a substantial audience, it’s as if they’re releasing the kind of record that they’ve always wanted to create; something that excites the listener, and compels them to participate in the chants and gospel arrangements in any way they kind; clapping hands, pounding on pots, banging heads, or just singing along.
With the strokes of their brush the band finishes “Fall Be Kind” as another testament to their skills as impressionist musicians, weaving the perfect swirls of life affirming lyrics, exciting vocals, and very natural tonal textures into a blanket as warm as the rich colors of a Monet painting. Pure, bliss.
This may be may best review yet, or as those who have kept tabs on my other reviews might say, my first non-shitty review! Anyways, please give me feedback peoples! And look! No typos! (If you point out any typos I swear with the burning passions of a thousand suns that I will cut you).
Ah, and please, if you plan on criticism please be a bit more specific. Not that I don't enjoy the high brow derailing, I DO! It's just my lack of sophistication prevents me from understanding the jeers of the master race.
Start with this Dougie, it's a pretty concise combination of their material up until this point.
As for the review, the actual substance of what you are saying is great, but you've written it in a way that sounds disjointed and awkward. Try reading it out loud to find some grammar mistakes and just keep writing, it'll work itself out.
Thanks for the suggestion tombits. I do agree with what you're saying. I'm used to writing poetry/songs, and so when it comes to writing reviews I'm not able to write them with as much ease. But again, thanks.
Anyways, MPP is a good album, though I didn't like it much at first. Like tombits said, it is a very concise combination of everything they've been working towards, however, I can't say I like it more then "Strawberry Jam" or "Sung Tongs". On this EP, I really think they managed to get past what made MPP boring at parts. I can't really say what it is, maybe it's just the instrumentation or something, but this EP just sounds great. Between "What Would I Want? Sky" and a live version of "Fireworks" with "Essplode" spliced in the middle of the song, I really can't get enough of this band right now.
Oh, and I would suggest starting at "Strawberry Jam". It's at that point where the band really started to cut out the unnecessary indulgences in their songs (I'm not a big fan of their longer compositions). Plus, "Fireworks", "Peacebone", "For Reverend Green", and "Chores" are all fantastic songs that will be stuck in your head for days. Also, the album is a lot more energized then Merriweather.