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Animal Collective Fall Be Kind Review

EP. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Every bit as spellbinding as fans will be anticipating.

Mike Diver 2009

The final release of a year that’s been Animal Collective’s most successful yet, with their Merriweather Post Pavilion album a bona-fide critical hit, Fall Be Kind presents five new tracks that should further the band’s steady infiltration of the mainstream.

While obviously the work of the same men who shaped Merriweather into such a brilliantly boisterous, bamboozling and beautiful collection of future-pop anthems, this is a standalone affair that requires recognition based on its own merits. Focusing on Animal Collective’s more ethereal soundscapes – closer to the underarm-tickle of Taste than the blitzkrieg bop of Brother Sport – Fall Be Kind is a disc to slip into, gently. If you’re yet to be moved by this act’s work, don’t expect this to prove an effective point of entry.

Those who’ve followed the fortunes of the now New York-based Collective for some time, at least since their switch to Domino for 2007’s superb Strawberry Jam, will take this EP to heart immediately. Graze – which incorporates elements of Romanian pan-piper Gheorghe Zamfir’s Ardeleana – opens with a languid liquidity; a staple of the band’s recent live sets, the song’s one that compromises deep impact for the slightest impression. But the mark remains nonetheless, and is given greater detail once the track strikes its chattering, kaleidoscopic second half – gypsy vibes meets Brooklyn cool.

What Would I Want? Sky is the first song to feature an officially cleared sample of a Grateful Dead track, in this instance Unbroken Chain from 1974’s …from the Mars Hotel LP. Not that Animal Collective have turned magpie to make up for a dearth of independent ideas, as the piece is still very much their own. If you knew no better, no connection between eclectic rock’s past and its forward-thinking present would be apparent.

The trio – a quartet until Merriweather’s recording (stray member Deakin is on a sabbatical) – entrance the faithful throughout the following three offerings: Bleed touches upon the delightful ambience of Panda Bear’s 2007 solo venture, Person Pitch, with its repetition-as-lullaby structure; the soaring vocals of On a Highway are tethered by a percussively playful backing that never shifts from a rightly contented second gear; and I Think I Can closes proceedings with alien chirrups giving way to earthbound instrumental birdsong, a midnight saunter through a balmy sonic jungle.

All told, this is every bit as spellbinding as anticipated. Roll on further adventures.

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