Strawberry Jam – Animal Collective review by novacane
12/10/07 by Craig "novacane" Reeves
New York pigeonhole baiters Animal Collective have incorporated more of an
established recipe to bring us this eighth preserve is cause for question in
the critics’ canteen. Added to the intoxicating trademark mix of noise,
effect, chant and harmony on previous outings are such well tried ingredients
as verse and chorus. Pièce de résistance or coup de grace?
protagonists Avey Tare (aka this) and Panda Bear (aka that), fresh from recent
extra-curricular releases, Pullhair Rubeye and Person Pitch
respectively, again lead the Collective dynamic. The clarity and rolling
brightness of the latter perhaps laid an early pointer for Strawberry
Jam as here too; those traits are more abundant than on any previous
Peacebone begins content to resist initial frequency, before lurching
into a galloping synthesized stallion on which the Tare vocal later straddles.
Opposed to much of the back catalogue and throughout the record, these
articulations are just that, barely clouded by the soundscape, and thus allow
the listener to venture onto so far less explored terrain.
the tone for an inexorably richer take on experimental folk which is further
apparent on album zenith For Reverend Green. Here Tare combines gritty
urban verse (“A kid that stabs mommy flew in the
trees”)with an exhaustedly relieved “it’s alright” chorus,
while also exhibiting a waywardly controlled vocal which traverses desperate
reassurance and blood-curdling punctuation in a single proclamation.
Relentless country-tinged bound and declared single Fireworks follows
in fashion, checking such crack personal conflicts as unwelcome social
interaction, self-doubt, realisation and longing. The lyrical blitz of
Winter Wonder Land and the other-worldly trip on #1 offer a
welcome, less conventional contrast.
Chores, Bear calls again on that fond Beach Boys sound and creates as
near a melodious result as might be appropriate. Beyond lie threatened
harmonies but graciously the Manson family seem to arrive on cue to provide a
deviance, if not to commit a total massacre. Placid closers Cuckoo
Cuckoo and Derek each subject us to the emotion and imagery of
death and while the former, and Unsolved Mysteries to a lesser extent,
never really find their wings, Derek and its homage to a dead pet
carries us to a conclusion in serene and poignant flight.
or not it is fancied that Animal Collective continue to prey on incoherence
and discord, however raucous or ambient, Strawberry Jam seems an
acceptable evolution. Loyal consumers should be appeased that their yearning
for another sonic challenge is delivered here, albeit with more evident traces
of structure. That we are simultaneously shown a greater transparency and a
more exposed soul should do nothing to detract from this latest strange
experimentation with melody and meaning is a delicate ménage à trois which
carries all the pitfalls you might expect from such an arrangement. It should
be hoped that future forays, whatever the personnel make-up, continue to see
prior invention progressed, or at least preserved. Tastefully, this jam is
just about right.