Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Almost unnoticed, Animal Collective have made it to their eighth album, moving to major-indie Domino for the cutely titled Strawberry Jam. And that doesn’t even include the wealth of solo records and side projects that Polar Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist and Deacon (not their real names) have been involved with. Strawberry Jam has even made the American charts, the New York-based band promoting it on America’s late night chat show circuit. Yet though this might be their most commercially successful record yet, it still defies easy categorisation. Songs are largely built around electronic sequences, but it certainly isn’t dance music. Lyrics often present a narrative, but it’s hardly folk. But yelped vocals and wildly unpredictable arrangements can’t distract from the straightforward quality of songs like "Winter Wonderland", the desperately seedy "Reverend Green" and the unsettling "Unsolved Mysteries", virtually a journey from birth to death in a matter of minutes. The sinister "#1" is one unlikely tune to play on network TV. Loosely affiliated with a supposed ‘new weird America’ scene, which, if it exists at all, describes a younger generation inspired by the loose band model defined by veterans Flaming Lips, Animal Collective’s agitated and original approach is the new mainstream. --Steve Jelbert

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