Thursday, December 31, 2009

Animal Collective - Not What You Think

I'm not going to sit here and blab on about the brilliance of Animal Collective's 2009 masterpiece, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Does it deserve top ten lists? Yes. Is it a transformation from AC's obscure alien sounds into funky electronic pop glory? Yes. Is "My Girls" one of the best songs of the year? Yes. And even though the album didn't make my top 10, it still probably makes my top 20.

But what I'm here to rave about is an old AC gem (and by old, I mean, like, 2007 or 2008... sooooo old in blog years).

"Fireworks" is a companion to creepy late night running. I put this song on last night, and I was transported South four hours, back in time a couple years, and into the supreme happiness you feel when you rediscover something that really resonated with you before that you've since forgotten.

What I really enjoy about Strawberry Jam is the way the creepy noises throughout make you feel like aliens are constantly flogging you. You are getting burped at. There is shouting and lewd, uncouth gargling. You feel slightly claustrophobic, worried that any moment something bizarre and inexplicable will jump out from the song and freakin' weird you out. And for some reason, there's something so comforting about how uncomfortable the music makes you feel.

"Fireworks" does all that and more. At almost 7 minutes, it packs in a lot of strange oddities, but also maintains a rather tuneful chorus and this kind of constant chugging rhythm that beautifully frames the tribal, otherworldly feel. When in need of a distraction (and I often am, while running on my treadmill in the dead of winter), this song will provide it. Spastic "woo woo" vocals, asymmetrical rhythms perfectly conducive to finger tapping, lyrics that bizarrely speak of warm cereal and ugly pores - it all culminates into an epic adventure into an alternate universe. For 7 minutes, I don't quite feel human. And sometimes - let's face it - life's just better when you don't feel human.

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