Review of Animal Collective live at Nottingham Rescue Rooms on Monday 23rd March 2009.
'Animal Collective' are a band of contrasts and perfect centres between oppositional forces. A band who eschew unforgettable moments and instantly forgettable meanderings in equal amounts, who sit happily in the minuscule overlap of euphoric dance-pop and jam-based, (near) proggish workouts, occasionally dipping out a foot into folk or tropical waters.
Until the release of most recent full length Merriweather Post Pavillion, their eighth, the level of success and mainstream acclaim the Baltimore three-piece have risen to would have been unfathomable. Sure, preceding album Strawberry Jam may have had more hooks and strict pop offerings, but MPP has caught the 'post' tailwind of last years horrific nu-rave movement at just the right time, enabling the band to sell out tours of 500+ capacity venues well in advance on the back of its hazy electronica.
This success hasn't changed the band however, for better or worse. Their live show is still heavily dependent on segues and improvisation, bridging crowd pleasing moments such as 'Fireworks' and 'My Girls' with washy, and at times grating, bubbles of electronics and samples, and the bands long-standing policy of shunning the majority of their most recent albums material from their setlist in favour of beta sketches of new songs remains.
Its admirable and irritating in equal parts. Some of the new material on offer is enticing and comfortable in between its previously recorded counterparts, but too often their live show feels like endless foreplay for a five second climax, and too often you are left scratching your chin when you want to be flailing your arms.
Which is not to say the live show they put on is sub-par, it could just be so more...rewarding. 'Animal Collective' will never be a band willing to provide instant gratification granted, but they seem to, almost stubbornly, favour insular communication over proclamations that capture the bands full power. In the face of the new found fame they prefer to hide away. A band of contrasts.
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