Fall Be Kindby Animal Collective
After releasing one of the best-reviewed albums of 2009, Animal Collective followed ten months later with one of the best EPs of the year, Fall Be Kind. An easily digestible slice of the band at their best, the five-tracker amplifies the circular harmonies of Merriweather Post Pavilion, but substitutes a slightly more laid-back feel compared to the dense, frenzied sound of Merriweather. The opener "Graze" begins with atmospherics and tremulous lyrics, but soon explodes with the same fervor and energy of past AC classics. The second track, "What Would I Want? Sky," deserves its place with Animal Collective's best, led by a Grateful Dead sample and including several distinct parts that form close to seven minutes of overlapping harmonies, wheezing and clanking found sounds, and ambient drone.
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Animal Collective have done it again. 2009 is obviously their year. First, their early 2009 release Merriweather Post Pavilion blew us away with its outdoor-sound landscapes and buzzing synths and booming bass. It sounded like a seasonal record. One that is ideally listened to during spring or summer. Sure, it was released in January but spring wasn't too far away. This mini-album, or EP in industry terms, consists of 5 songs that flow together seamlessly to create a lush sound that immediately brings forth thoughts of the cooler weather that goes along with the coming of fall. But that's the interesting thing about Animal Collective. If you have never heard anything off of Merriweather Post Pavilion or this new EP, you'd probably assume that they use mostly traditional instruments. This isn't the case at all. In fact, they use almost all electronic samplers and loop pedals. But the sound produced is so vibrant and full of emotion that it's as if they were using traditonal instruments after all. Some people complain about getting lost in the beeps and boops but I think that's the environment they want to put you in with their music. Each noise and drumbeat is essential to the overall feeling of the song. There are sections in some of these songs that are so enjoyable that it makes me almost forget about everything else released this year. The beautiful, grand samples on "Graze" before the explosion of synth and harmonized vocals; the buildup of hypnotic drums in 7/4 time before the introduction of the second half of "What Would I Want? Sky," the first song to use a licensed Grateful Dead sample; the added drums to "On a Highway;" the incredible Panda Bear-led "I Think I Can." And then we have "Bleed," introduced live just this year: dark and cut with plenty of reverb. If there's anything to learn this year, it's that Animal Collective have proved that they are among the most gifted and imaginative musicians of the 00's. Not one of these songs is a snoozer or a throwaway track. Any one of these could have made Merriweather as an actual LP track. Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist have really come a long way since Spirit They're Gone but they haven't once compromised their unique sound in favor of a less creative approach. You shouldn't even have to think twice about buying this right now.
I adore this EP. Every single song is gold.