Review Summary: She said, we'll all feel. All together.
Moving onward from acid-drenched psychedelic folk freak outs, Animal Collective found itself doing something truly weird – making the closest thing to what could be considered “pop” music. Sure, the Avey Tare/Panda Bear debut Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished
had elements that could vaguely resemble a pop aesthetic covered in murky, spastic bursts of noise, but other records such as the vastly underappreciated Danse Manatee
, the frightening live experience of Hollindagain
or the yin/yang twins Campfire Songs
and Here Comes the Indian
all displayed a revolving lineup with varying styles that made each and every succeeding album different from one another. 2004’s Sung Tongs
already signaled a departure from the eclectic sounds of prior albums with its tendencies toward warm, tribal acoustic moods and blissfully ethereal harmonies by the band; yet with its successor Feels
, Animal Collective eschewed acoustics in favor of more electronic and upbeat vibes that wasn’t all too present in the AnCo canon up until this point.
is weird not only when considering what came before it, but for its increasingly odd song structures and lyrical content. Sure, there’s been moments like the anti-Be True to Your School vignette “College” and practically all of Hollindagain
, but Feels
truly takes the bizarre in AnCo’s music up another notch with moments such as the first verse of opener “Have You Seen The Words” (“Your poor intestines can't deny when the inky periods drip from your mailbox”, etc.) and the oft-repeated lyric in “Bees” that goes on and on for a couple of minutes as Avey’s vocal constantly shifts downward amidst an ambient atmosphere. Feels
can be divided into two sections – the upbeat “song-oriented” half and the “contemplative introverted” half. Songs such as “Words”, “Grass” and “The Purple Bottle” all feature elements of albums past, such as the tribal drumming featured on “The Purple Bottle” and the outrageously spastic segments of noise on “Grass” in the form of a chorus. Tunes such as “Bees” and “Banshee Beat” both serve as the transition between these two halves but also combining elements of them as well; in the former, it focuses heavily on atmospherics and less on lyricism, while on the latter it takes aim at introspective lyricism and a slow, moody rhythm to dominate its eight-minute duration. The second half eschews upbeat compositional work and vocal-oriented songs for more ambient, drawn-out pieces that represent a come down from the excitement that took control of a great deal of Feels
, as shown in the slow burning violin improvisation “Daffy Duck” (courtesy of Eyvind Kang) and the slightly-not-so-noisy bliss of “Loch Raven” before merging the two halves yet again in closer “Turn Into Something”, which made use of Doctess’ piano work which was featured all throughout the album, yet was often buried beneath the unusual guitar work and reverb-heavy vocalizations.
is weird if we put it up against such bizarre works like the neo-psych insanity of Here Comes the Indian
and the cool, comfortable Campfire Songs
, but when putting in perspective, it’s another evolution in the AnCo discography that was bound to happen sooner or later. It doesn’t capture the band at its freakiest nor at its most normal (or whatever could come close to normal with these guys) and that’s
what makes something like Feels
such an anomaly.