Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam

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Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam

Animal Collective reconvenes for another avant-pop curveball... now with intelligible vocals!

Besides the great music, the fascinating thing about Animal Collective is how malleable a concept it is.

For many bands, “growth” amounts to adding a cellist. But for these NYC-based Baltimore expats, who consistently confound pigeonholing (the common “psych-folk” feels particularly myopic vis-à-vis the burbling digitalia of Strawberry Jam), each album ?nds the group members intuitively utilizing their tools and approaching an expansive feeling—something akin to childhood wonder—from a new angle. Strawberry Jam leads us out of the woods and into the carnival, casting off the shambolic shamanism of earlier Animal Collective works in favor of clipped, cascading melodies and spectral harmonies. The album’s crayon-bright bounce and tweaky rhythms make it sound like the improbable nexus of Black Dice and Timbaland. “Peacebone” gradually marshals a digital squall into a hard-charging thwack; “Unsolved Mysteries” skates over compressed guitar ?ecks; and “#1” unfolds around one synthetic glissando, making for Animal Collective’s most lucid album yet.