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Album review: Animal Collective's 'Fall Be Kind'

December 14, 2009 |  9:16 pm

ANIMAL_COLLECTIVE_240On this five-song EP mostly culled from “Merriweather Post Pavilion” outtakes, Animal Collective's eighth and most successful record from January of this year, David "Avey Tare" Portner, Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox and Brian "Geologist" Weitz continue their delicate balance between creepy-crawly sweetness and bubbling, dark psychedelia. After all, if it didn't mix the uncomfortable with the transcendent, it wouldn't be Brooklyn's Animal Collective.

There's not a cut here that will make anyone think differently about the Baltimore-born outfit but it's a worthy addition to their catalog. "Fall Be Kind" coalesces around the band's sonic staples, leaning particularly toward Panda Bear's dreamy aesthetic: anchoring polyrhythms, nether-worldly textures and amber-warm vocals with a few new tricks thrown in, like the near-syrupy strings that begin "Graze."

"What Would I Want? Sky," which uses the first-ever licensed Grateful Dead sample as a recurring motif, shows off the band's talents at creating near-mystical transitions. It opens with burbling, shivery synths pillowing around tranced-out vocals -- it's a sonic palette that could stir amorous feelings in beluga whales. But before it slips down an oceanic black hole, the song breaks into a warm groove framing Avey's relatable lyrics, punctuated by a taxi driver's scold to "stop daydreaming, dude!"

While Animal Collective's strengths are not usually to be found in their words, the lyrics do lend a welcome humanizing quality to the sometimes-alien ruptures that characterize Animal Collective's sound. "Somehow I feel hopeful," Avey and Panda sing on "Bleed," and it sounds like the lovely truth.

-- Margaret Wappler

Animal Collective
"Fall Be Kind"
Three stars (Out of four)