Review of Animal Collective's EP Fall Be Kind
As I've said in the past, it's difficult to say something about Animal Collective that hasn't already been said. In fact, reacting in a verbal way at all feels odd because their music feels very pictorial, and my response to it is largely physical. As an example, take Merriweather Post Pavilion closer 'Brother Sport.' The track's swirling chants are affecting in a way that I can only liken to St Vitus Dance, it's not the meaning that seems important but the endless repetition and the beat. Basically, it boils down to this: for all their lush and fertile complexity, you feel Animal Collective's music instinctively in your gut rather than your head.
It would be tempting to say for the sake of continuity that Fall Be Kind EP picks up where Merriweather Post Pavilion left off, but Animal Collective would never make it so straightforward. No, once more they have chosen their path as musical chameleons and unsurprisingly, it works. The shorter format crams everything very succinctly into five songs but rather than this limiting their musical ambition, Fall Be Kind seems to magnify it to bombastic levels. What was sprawling and infinite on Merriweather Post Pavilion is concise yet still beguiling on Fall Be Kind, from the dizzy high of 'Graze' to the dark low of 'On a Highway,' you feel like you have travelled with the band through so much more than 27 minutes.
'Gaze' rises out of the mist as a fairytale: 'let me begin,' insists Avey Tare, but this slow and heavenly beginning eventually twists away into an unexpected fairground jig. On paper this must look rather incredible, but Animal Collective now exist on a plateau where no rules about music are fixed and apparently, they can do no wrong.
So 'Gaze' sets the pace as gleeful and lovely, leaving 'What Would I Want? Sky,' to bring the mood down by subtle nuances. Then Fall Be Kind ploughs what must be the band's darkest depths yet. The drone of 'Bleed' is disquieting and strange, and for once it seems they've let their masks of cheerful, globe-trotting revisionists slip. This is illustrated further in the wonderful 'On a Highway,' where we see them detached and melancholy on the endless tour circuit. Though not exactly new territory, the song is unusually simple for Animal Collective and shows a welcome flash of humanity rather than just their extraordinary musicianship.
Perhaps Animal Collective will forever be known as the darlings of the critics. Merriweather Post Pavilion's number one slot in Pitchfork's 'Albums of the Year' is probably doing nothing to dissuade the naysayers. But anyone even the least bit curious about their wonderfully eccentric genius, this certainly would be a very neat place to start.