Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hating on Fall Be Kind

One of the bands I forgot to mention in my new music post the other day was Animal Collective. At the recommendation of Jonathan Lethem, I picked up the Fall Be Kind EP and was blown away by it. Fun listening!

Reading up on the collective, though, was an exercise in bizarre hipstersm prose. Few, if any, people writing about the music spoke to the music in terms of listening to a group of songs. Instead, they wrote about how the music "fails to build upon" past successes (i.e., the earlier albums are always better) or talk about how annoying Animal Collective fans are (as if you should judge music by who listens to it).

As an example, Ben Graham's excellent review for the Quietus looks at the EP from the perspective of politics and punk and finds it lacking:
...Alternative America was able to settle back into its spaced-out hippy comfort zone, as hazy as the fog over the San Francisco Bay. Just ... sit and listen to this new EP by Animal Collective, who have developed their 'Brian-Wilson-with-a-sampler' sound over the last decade to become the cherished darlings and freak-flag bearers of the whole contemporary scene. ... It's always seemed to me that Animal Collective have more in common with these mellow, close-harmonising spiritual children of David Crosby than with the electronic avant-garde they're more usually linked with: frequently wonderful, and groundbreaking and innovative in many ways, Animal Collective nevertheless seem bound to a late 60s musical and cultural aesthetic which is often anachronistic and even unhelpful in a 21st Century context.
... At the close of 2009 this kind of head-in-the-sand navel-gazing is even less acceptable, no matter how physically impressive it would be if you could actually carry out that mixed metaphor as a literal action. The fact is, Animal Collective are highly educated young people from the richest nation on earth, wearing masks and pretending to be pandas while effectively pissing around in a sandpit. The patterns they make are often exquisite. But it's not enough.

While this is interesting, I find it lacking in several respects:
- What is "enough"? Producing more angry music? Inserting deliberately political lyrics into songs that may not be able to support them? The end here is vague and the criticism suffers as a result.
- Again, the defining of the music by its audience. Who cares what scene they're part of? All that you should really be judging is the music that enters your ears.

Anyways, at the end of the day, I love this little album and find myself continually listening to it. I'm not reading the lyrics for deeper meanings or exploring what their audience says about them. I'm just enjoying the good songs.

1 comment:

eric said...

check out merriweather post pavillion. great album!