Artist: Animal Collective
Title: Strawberry Jam
Format: Double LP Gatefold
Catalogue Number: WIGLP199
Year of Release: 2007
A2 Unsolved Mysteries
B1 For Reverend Green
C1 # 1
C2 Winter Wonder Land
D1 Cuckoo Cuckoo
The photos at the top are the gatefold sleeve in all its glory. Here are some photos of the equally lovely inner sleeves, with *gasp* lyrics - not that they'll really shed much light on whatever it is they're banging on about...
All the labels on the records look the same, one pot of jam slightly offset, thus:
So that's what it looks like sorted, what does it sound like? Well, it's taken me two months to get into for a start, which caused me to revise my rules about new purchases. Having said that, Sung Tongs took a while to grow on me as well.
Peacebone was the single released from this album, and is reviewed here.
Unsolved Mysteries continues the electronic pulsing vibe, and the vocals are still uncharacteristically high in the mix and discernible. I have no idea why it ends up being about Jack the Ripper though.
Chores is like Grass & some of the quicker Tongs, but lacks the childlike edge of those, it sounds like an adult complaining about chores. The slowed-down latter half of the track is better though, over rapidly strummed guitar and noises, which builds back together over a 4/4 tom beat and lots of aaahing.
Over on the B-side, For Reverend Green is more looped-riff-based, beginning with something that is either slowed down vocals or crunchy distorted guitar. There are similarities to Peacebone, in that Avey's vocals provide the main melody and some occasional roars, but it's a slower and more considered piece, the minute and half coda, where the title of the track is sung in an increasingly desperate manner, then allowed to fade is nothing short of beautiful. This segues into recent single Fireworks, which opens with some trademark high harmonising over the now ubiquitous rhythmic pulsing, and what follows is a masterpiece of longing and celebration, and has influences from all ages and styles of popular music. It's astonishingly good.
And not surprisingly, it doesn't manage to maintain this quality for the rest of the album. Not to say that Sides C & D are awful, but they are certainly looser, and somewhat less accessible. #1 is a case in point. From the arpeggio synth riff that underpins it, to the strangely effected vocals being pitch-down and wobbled (for want of a better word) and there being nothing much else but some cartoon sound effects and slow drum hits. Winter Wonderland is a fast AC-standard style song, but nothing special.
Cuckoo Cuckoo loops piano riffs, for variation, and various ghostly wails start things off. The main vocals almost sound like they were taken from a different song, until the drums come in, which are thrashed to much good effect. It gets quieter, it gets louder, it gets quieter again. Derek finishes things off nicely though, with Panda singing about a dog, "a white and blackish sheltie" no less. It is very much like Take Pills, which is no bad thing.