GoGoIndieCritic :: Animal Collective :: Strawberry Jam

I’ll begin by saying that I’ve never been a huge Animal Collective fan (shock! gasp!). While I definitely think that its past efforts have been well done and commendable, there was always something about its fondness for chirpy, chipmunk-pitched vocals that didn’t appeal to me. What good are psychedelic lyrics if you can’t even make out the words? Never a band to sit still, though, 2005’s Feels saw the band play with less freak-folk and more rock sensibility. Then earlier this year, Animal Collective member Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) released the incredible, Brian Wilson-infused Person Pitch, and I really had to reexamine the band’s past efforts through new eyes. While I’m still not sold on all its old material, Animal Collective’s newest effort, Strawberry Jam, is exactly the direction that I think I’ve been wanting from the band since first hearing it.

The psych-pop and freak-folk are still prevalent, but now lyrics are more distinguishable (even if their content is no less confusing). Much of the album’s lyrics are concerned with food. In the first track 'Peacebone,' Avey Tare (aka David Porter) twangs, 'You’re progressing letters / That you use to cook your broccoli / The other side of takeout is mildew on rice.' So maybe not the most sensible (or savory) of food-centric lyrics, but there are other subjects searched here — living in Brooklyn on the hodgepodge hymn 'For Reverend Green' and just wanting to get done with work so you can smoke some weed and take a walk by yourself on the Person Pitch-esque 'Chores.'

If you’ve ever seen strawberry jam made, you know that it involves a lot of sticky, bubbling mash, and that pretty much describes the almost sickly sweet psych-pop candy that Animal Collective has created on this, its finest record.

4.4 of 5

Yep. It's an Animal Collective record, all right.

6.4 of 10.

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