Brooklyn weirdoes stay weird
Several months back, delirious with fever and sequestered in the guest room away from his wife and newborn,
my buddy Chris repeatedly listened to the Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs
(2004). Only recently did it occur to me that this, perhaps, endowed Chris with an incommunicable understanding of that (acclaimed) freaky-ass swirl of abrupt harmonies, disjointed acoustic strums and surreal washes—and it’s probably why I never grokked it.
Feels—the sixth full-length credited to the Collective brand, though the second to feature all four cryptically pseudonymed members—picks up precisely where the last cold-and-flu season ended. Rewarding full attention (and nothing less), the hyper-schizoid singsong polyrhythms (“The Purple Bottle”), creakily epic multi-sectioned drone-ballads (“Banshee Beat”) and insect-pop bubblegum (“Grass”) positively collide over nine unpredictably unique tracks. On the disc-closing “Turn Into Something,” martial drums high-step quickly beneath twinkling keyboards, noise solos and a folky lyric that could be slowed and set to an acoustic jam. And then everything melts for no good reason (but no bad one, either).
Like an organic counterpart to its fellow Brooklynite experimentalists in the Fiery Furnaces, Animal Collective embraces the overtly difficult, all in the name of childlike exploration. And, like the Furnaces, the band can ooze pretension from its natty pores. This ain’t the kinda indie rock that’s gonna get played on any cable dramas, no sir. And except for the fact that it’s being made by scrawny white kids in Brooklyn, it might not even be rock at all. But that’s nitpicking, innit?