Animal Collective
Tangerine Reef


2.0
poor

Review

by Finn Baker USER (41 Reviews)
August 19th, 2018 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Deceptively pretty.

Animal Collective are practically known for conjuring up odd music. Sometimes it's two friends in a basement tinkering with drums and electronics with healthy injections of noise. A few years later, it could be very serene guitar playing, and in another short period of time, they're making well-engorged psyched-out pop music with impressive attention to detail. The duo/trio/quartet are always deliberately switching out recording methods, and the logic that fuels their songwriting matures with time. Calling any release from them 'surely the weirdest thing they've done to date' is almost a disservice to the rest of their career. However, in every sense of the word, Tangerine Reef is the Animal Collective album that has been perplexing listeners the most. It is their second "audiovisual album" since 2010, although not really, since the band doesn't seem to have a problem with the music being released on its lonesome. On top of this, the album has quite a lot to do with an Animal Collective one-off performance last year, called Coral Orgy.

It appears that Tangerine Reef, at heart, is a studio rendition of that concert. That information can provide some context as to why this whole album sounds like a live recording. Not a moment of silence permeates the borders between any two tracks, and although there might be some obvious fading to blend two segments together, all 52 minutes are meant to be digested in one sitting. Letting the music engulf your ears and the underwater visuals invade your eyes might be easier if there happened to be more substance in either format, though. The visuals, despite their allure, are simply pieces of breathtaking footage meant to accompany the vaguely-aquatic music. Adding to how hollow the experience is, the music barely contains any semblence of rhythm. Chunks of space are filled with heavily effected guitar noodling and electronic toying that sound equally disjointed. These improvisational stretches seem to pad out a handful of ideas into a length worthy of an album release.

The first bunch of tracks, from Hair Cutter to Buxom, contain instrumental ideas that extend themselves for a somewhat-refreshing 15 minutes, even if some of the lyricism feels emotionally vapid. Around the time Coral Understanding fumbles into existence, the true cacophony reveals itself. Avey Tare's lyrics both read and sound like a computer-generated string of text, delivered with artificial vocal embellishments that cover the entirety of Tangerine Reef. All the sounds that support his voice are falling apart just as quickly as they can built. Every form of cohesion established on previous tracks has been discarded, in favor of electric shots that refuse to harmonize. This rolls into Airpipe (To a New Transition) which sounds even more discordant, and gets stuck in a negative feedback loop for all of six minutes.

Jake and Me is a necessary respite. Even though the lyrics and vocalizations towards the end are strangely repetitive ("and, and, and then, then, then") the subtle instrumentation is a truly beautiful addition to the simple chords. It is minimalistic by nature, the opposite of the following song, Coral By Numbers. At half the length, it contains twice as many lyrics, and is built on stabs of percussion with intense bass. Each one feels like a satisfying jab in the chest, a way to keep the listener's eyes open for the following song. Unfortunately, that song is Hip Sponge and it is the worst cut from Tangerine Reef. For four minutes, Avey Tare delivers the same two lines in an excited, jumpy fashion that does not come close to matching the sounds behind him, which are attempting to be quiet and natural. Painfully, the two moods are being pushed together with no positive outcome.

After a while, the ideas that showcased themselves in the first act of the record start to make a resurgence in the third act. Hair Cutter's lush tones play a key role in Lundsten Coral as well, and its semi-dreamy state appears to serve as a reminder: we're almost done. One of the best songs on the album is tucked away in the following spot as the penultimate track. Palythoa is an undertaking in creating the same mood songs like Airpipe did, and it goes down much easier this time. The opening is magnificent, which carefully segues into a successfully murky atmosphere. Many sounds occupy the stereo field in different places, and they are completely mellifluous when all playing at the same time. Even the lyrics have improved by this point. ("I've been staying for a pick-me-up, now I'm trying to follow you back/Don't think it's time")

Barring the redundancy of lyrics and off-putting percussion in Best of Times (Worst of All), Tangerine Reef ends on a strong note. If someone is looking to get lost in an ambiguously celestial or aquatic world of noises, then this album could easily function in that circumstance. However, when attempting to keenly analyze the cooperation of all the seperate fragments, that is when interest in the album diminishes. Songs rarely operate with all the moving parts in tow. It's frustrating when a set of chords and melodies is trying desperately to produce a certain emotion, but an unwelcome din shows up time and time again, repeatedly breaking that spell. The nail in the coffin is the fact that all vocals on the album have a single chain of effects that does not change for every moment of 52 minutes. This makes them get old, really fast. Songs that are pleasant throughout like Jake and Me, as well as Palythoa, are few and far between, which makes Tangerine Reef generally uninteresting. Sure, it looks gorgeous on the surface. But that doesn't mean all the stuff going on down below is just as impressive.



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user ratings (90)
Chart.
2.6
average
other reviews of this album
Aaron W. STAFF (3.9)
Get your eyes on the prize (wiping the burrito off the windshield)....



Comments:Add a Comment 
IcelandRevel
August 19th 2018


931 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I must admit, I'm scared of the feedback to this review. I didn't expect to write this much. When I capped it, I thought I would have to trim it down, but after proofreading, I'm not sure what to remove.

luci
August 19th 2018


10559 Comments


not every day you see a bar chart with no rating above 3.5

BlazinBlitzer
August 19th 2018


1303 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

^Yikes.

bloc
August 19th 2018


54376 Comments


Only 19 votes so far, the night is young

Digging: The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2018


18417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

hmmm

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Dance of the Moon and the Sun

SandwichBubble
August 19th 2018


9246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good a review

I can finally vent my anger properly

Digging: Little Claw - Moss Has Fangs

Evrimen
August 19th 2018


137 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"not every day you see a bar chart with no rating above 3.5 "

Then you see a privileged staff member



Arcade
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2018


121 Comments


is this as obnoxious as Painting With

Digging: Weezer - The Teal Album

SandwichBubble
August 19th 2018


9246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's the best thing they've done in a while, it has the average to prove it

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2018


18417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

it's their best record since Feels/Strawberry Jam



if PW was their pop record, this is their ambient album

Veldin
August 19th 2018


3771 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I actually enjoyed Centipede Hz, but Painting With was very dull and I haven't revisited it. As a moderate fan of Animal Collective, is it worth spending 55 min watching the audiovisual film, or can I still gain enjoyment from this album just by listening to it without watching the visuals?

Veldin
August 19th 2018


3771 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCup2fmAUuk - here's the audiovisual release for anyone curious

SandwichBubble
August 19th 2018


9246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"can I still gain enjoyment from this album just by listening to it without watching the visuals?"

Yeaaaa buddy, I still haven't watched it with visuals and it's sitting with a pretty 3.5



Gonna give this a week then try listening to this with the visuals. That's kind of what I did when ODDSAC's audio rip came out

Ashtiel
August 19th 2018


297 Comments


i was on a backwards anco discog listen and while painting with admittedly started to grow off on me after a while, i quite enjoyed meeting of the waters. centipede hz. wasn't all that bad either, in fact i want to revisit it because i feel it had some more eccentric/interesting ideas going on than painting with, and merriweather post pavilion from what i remember was also really enjoyable. i unfortunately stopped before i got about to fall be kind which is likely a mistake as i've heard it's a good one.

i think for now though i'll be giving this a listen, as ~55 minutes of psychedelic underwater ambiance sounds good to me and anco normally nail that kinda stuff



Digging: Helms Alee - Sleepwalking Sailors

Veldin
August 19th 2018


3771 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I still need to check out Meeting of the Waters and the Painters EPs. I'll definitely give this a listen tonight while I'm relaxing.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2018


18417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

CHz is very underrated, although a little too cluttered



PW has a good EP's worth of songs (Floridada/Natural Selection/Golden Gal/Recycling) which could've been a "good" album if paired with The Painters



as for this, this falls more in line with those early AnCo albums (Danse Manatee/Indian/Campfire/Hollandagain) and I'd honestly say if you're not too huge on ambient/drone, it'll be a bit more difficult to enjoy, although I wouldn't let that stop you from trying it out

Evrimen
August 20th 2018


137 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I don't understand the hate against MPP in this site. Does it have to do with the band's fate with the following two albums that had the similar poppy sound?

Winesburgohio
Contributing Reviewer
August 20th 2018


2445 Comments


i can't fathom liking the latter-half of Feels and not feeling at least appreciation for what's going on here! obviously there's no immediate gratification and a lot of murk to wade through before the oases, but there's so much that's lush and textural here i'll hear them out

Digging: The Dead C - Rare Ravers

SandwichBubble
August 20th 2018


9246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"I don't understand the hate against MPP in this site."

It does have a 3.9 average.

I can't speak for an entire site, but I think it's one of their weakest albums.



@Wines [2]

Gyromania
August 20th 2018


26489 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

CHz isn't bad but it's pretty mediocre on the whole. Ten times better than Painting With tho. Gonna give this another chance with some green and see if I can connect with it. Every time their new albums get hyped I feel like I'm missing out but it's hard for me to connect with their latter day material.



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