The first time I saw Animal Collective (and coincidentally the last) was at the ABC in Glasgow on a rainy midweek day. As the members walked on stage in that slacker-slow way I remember thinking to myself, “Here we go, another group of woolen sweater idiots with ironic glasses and hair that looks like you got dragged through a bush backwards playing obscenely boring music in a very serious way.” I almost prophesied how shit the music would be, and I wasn’t far off. Overindulgent, poncy, masturbatory geek droolings of epic underwhelming proportions.
Most bands nowadays fit that description. Perhaps for AC the only string in their bow is that they were one of the first in the wave of nauseatingly “psychedelic fixated” Americans who truly believed that bouncing around on stage while dragging notes to their breaking point and pretending like you were really, really into it constituted a good show. Or a good album for that matter. Pitchfork lapped it up. Suddenly a group of strange boys were the centre of a void left over whenever Radiohead took too long to release a follow up to whatever shit they had just thrown at us. Kids who read Pitchfork religiously and had no idea about the origins of Psychedelic music spazzed out with the wonder that was Animal Collective, the hippie-indie-orange-light-beam-tribe!
Angus Maclise did it. From the lofts of Kathmandu he created soundscapes and loops that still sound fresh today. There is an innocence and druggy haze hanging over those songs that propels them to the forefront and forces you to react to them. Animal Collective just sound like bored chimps pressing random buttons on old analog synths and moaning at chosen intervals. The album can quite literally pass without inspiring one single thought or even noticing its on. That could be commended, but its not like you win a prize for being unnoticed now do you?
I have many friends who sit experimenting with sounds on computers and old synths, lashing on vocal effects and creating (sometimes) nice moments. They don’t, however, record them and release them under the guise of it being anything more than that. Pottering around to gain inspiration to create something truly beautiful. Animal Collective seem stuck at Step 1.
Sadly when the “right” people tell you something is cool you tend to listen to it through filtered ears, and almost punch yourself for feeling bored convincing yourself that you are the one who doesn’t get it, and this is truly sensational. For those who don’t take the opinions of others too seriously, I can’t imagine any other outcome than listening to this record once through and instantly regretting that you did.