Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind EP

November 25, 2009

Animal Collective‘s new “Fall Be Kind” EP, released digitally by Domino Records this week, presents five new songs, diverse in their styles and moods but each fabulously perfect in its own way.

“Graze,” the opener, recalls Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” with its soaring vocal and abrupt shift midway through. “What Would I Want? Sky” echos the cautiously optimistic themes that run throughout “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” All three band member’s talents come together beautifully on the haunting “Bleed,” certainly the most striking and probably my favorite track on the record. “On a Highway” would be the center panel for a triptych that has, to its left, Kerouac’s “On the Road” and, to its right, that wonderful “Tiny Dancer” scene from Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.” And the finale, “I Think I Can,” brings us back to “Person Pitch” and “Merriweather” too, combining the key elements from both of those previous works.

Some people might dismiss this EP, saying that they got tired of hearing the more popular tracks off “Merriweather.” But that I just don’t understand. To me, that’s like saying, “gee, I’m just kind of bored of looking at ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon'” or “yeah, I’ve just seen ‘Lavender Mist’ one too many times.” That’s just crazy!

One last point to make is that I really don’t think it’s a coincidence or accident that the Grateful Dead song sampled in “Sky” is titled “Unbroken Chain.” With their work this year, Animal Collective build on the basic ideas advanced previously by David Foster Wallace and Stephen Malkmus. That irony and cynicism are, at this point, dead ends; that many elements of postmodernism that once felt exciting and bold now seem tired and out-of-date; that the second-rate, faux-Cartesian/solipsistic theorizing that passes for scholarship these days is … well … a lot of worthless junk; and that the search for true emotion, true satisfaction and happiness, and indeed the search for truth itself really require as essential inputs experience, experimentation, and the Popperian scientific method. With their work this year, that is, the members of Animal Collective stand tall, not just with the great creative forces of our time, but all the great intellects extending back to generations past: “The Unbroken Chain.” At least if you ask me ….

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