A1 In The Flowers (5:22)
A2 My Girls (5:41)
A3 Also Frightened (5:14)
B1 Summertime Clothes (4:30)
B2 Daily Routine (5:46)
B3 Bluish (5:14)
C1 Guys Eyes (4:31)
C2 Taste (3:53)
C3 Lion In A Coma (4:12)
D1 No More Runnin (4:23)
D2 Brother Sport (5:59)
I'm in danger of breaching my own rules regarding the review of new releases, but I'm beginning to wonder whether three months is even enough for an album to sink in. The hype around this release in January was astonishing.
Hyperbole such as 'landmark album of the century' abounds. Being a contrary man, seeing talk like that instinctively makes me want to not review the album at all. but it is bloody good - a logical progression from their previous albums, whilst sounding like a completely different band to Sung Tongs, and totally different from anyone else (despite lazy articles like this one from the Guardian lumping them in with Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear largely because of the animal names. OK, Grizzly Bear sound a little like AC, but drawing the comparison is only going to benefit GB, surely? And I can't be the only one to spot a heavy AC influence on recent Sigur Ros).
Back to that 'century' quote, part of a larger trend to absurdly inflate issues to try and make them more newsworthy. Epidemic is no longer good enough, so it's now a pandemic. How can an album be judged to be a landmark of the current 21st century when we're only 9 years into it? (and the majority of reviewers will be dead by the end of it). Three months seems an absurdly short time to gather your thoughts on any given new album and ponder its place it in the canon of recorded music.
It's not just a good album, worthy of your time and attention, it's the best album of the next 91 years.
Does everyone else read reviews with this in mind? The fact that the reviewer, even if they had an advance copy, has maybe only heard the record a couple of times. This is an issue that I think informs the professional critic vs. blogger debate. The professional critic, it is argued, brings a wealth of experience to their review, the blogger is just a fan. To borrow a phrase from Bad Science, I think you'll find it's a little bit more complicated than that. The fan is more likely to know the body of work better, keep up with developments, see the band live and hear new tracks in that context. The professional critic might have obligations to sponsors, columns to write about their struggles with housework, the new X-Factor winner to pillory. The traditional print press are the worst for this, their reviewers often poorly paid freelancers trying to squeeze a living from a struggling organ. At least the specific music press are specialists and enthusiasts first, reviewers second.
Here are some illustrative examples from the mass of comment given to this release:
And I promise I did not choose these just to drive home my point, but here is a review from The Times, nicely getting the year of Young Prayer and the title of Danse Manatee wrong: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/cd_reviews/article5476220.ece
And then, sweet jesus, The Independent's review:
And here is my opinion.
This is a very good album. Here is a band doing new things with the format of pop songs, no more verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus-again-but-slightly-higher-fade. Here is a band who break away from the traditional drums-bass-guitar approach to pop, but unarguably make great singalong pop songs. Panda Bear's are mostly based on chant and locking into a groove or phrase. Avey Tare's are generally more melodic. Tracks on this album are, with only one exception, ace. Here is a band with very little interest in whether you like them, or I like them, or what anyone says. They love their music, and their families, but maybe not in that order. The duff tune is Lion in a Coma, but only the end. Brother Sport made me cry, but only when I knew what it was about. On the first listen I wasn't impressed, by the twentieth I couldn't get enough.
Here is an interview: http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/7585-animal-collective/
And here are some downloads: http://animalcollective.org/gets/