Don't Drink the Koolaid: Animal Collective is really just two Beach Boys records playing at the same time
Ever wonder how critical consensus comes about -- how all of the sudden the whole world just seems to inexplicably share the exact same opinion on a particular artist, occurence or topic? (The recent Taylor Swift Grammy backlash is a great example of this phenomenon.)
Here's what happens: Essentially, one, two (or several) revered oracles weigh in on something with extreme decisiveness and authority. And then, because their voice is so strong and their take so trusted, their opinions instantly becomes gospel, embraced by countless other people who get paid to have opinions -- people like, well, like us.
From there, our fellow self-ordained knowallogists then begin parroting the same sentiments ad infinitum until an echo chamber-like effect develops, and eventually we've all reached the same conclusion -- whether we actually have or not.
What if someone along the way -- lets call them the voice of reason, shall we -- stood up and vehemently screamed "BULLSHIT!" at the top of their lungs? Welcome to Don't Drink the Koolaid, our latest feature in which we step into the role of pop culture contrarian and pee on the leg of critical consensus. This week, we're calling BULLSHIT on Animal Collective.
Animal Collective is a band appreciated and loved by so many to the extent major news sites have gone off and done full features on what it is about the band that makes people fall in love. They are revered, praised, gushed upon by every major and minor music magazine and blog as though they are the second coming of the Beach Boys.
And that is exactly what they are: play two Beach Boys records at the same time and you have an Animal Collective album.
The boys have proven their merit with some truly exciting and great songs like "Who Could Win a Rabbit," "Grass" and "My Girls," but really, honestly, who listens to and enjoys a full album of their work? In an impromptu poll we've found the definitive answer: NOBODY WE KNOW.
The reason is simple: This is circus music. Its weird, uninterrupted repetition gets old. Fast. For all its color, it lacks character. For every single, there is a corresponding track like "Cuckoo Cuckoo."
Then we'll get the EPs -- boring collections of songs that go nowhere fast and fail to experiment or play. Tracks like "Street Flash" sound like something Tom Waits would have discarded on the cutting room floor. The tussle between avant-garde and pop is the supposed appeal of the band -- but is that even true? Is there anything actually pop about a band that loops shit and hollers like a drunken coked-out Brian Wilson?
For what's its worth, we think half their albums sound more suited to children's shows than Pitchfork ga-ga lists. And no, we're not stupid and we're not just being spiteful. We've listened to every album multiple times -- you don't not listen to the New York Time's second best album of the year.
And all this listening hasn't gotten us anywhere on it. Even in the infant stages of the band, pre-hype, when were pretending to really be into Sung Tongs and Here Comes the Indian we didn't actually get it. Record scratches prove that the A side to Sung Tongs took considerable more abuse than the rest.
The weirdest thing about the Animal Collective following is that fans are so passionate and predisposed to like whatever the band does, and frankly, it hasn't done shit differently since Sung Tongs. There hasn't been a progression, a movement, each album is slightly weird, but not too weird. It's quirky, but not too quirky.
Without fail their singles will feature a well-placed hook in the midst of bellowing backwards vocal loop. We're not saying it's a bad thing, we're saying it's played out now. Boring. Insipid. Worse, the entire music listening world seems to think this is the greatest thing since the Beatles. which is pathetic.
When we think of great bands, we think of progression. We think of an album, a moment, a song that really steps out, but we just don't feel there is anything like that in Animal Collective's repertoire, which is fine for a five-year-lifespan pop band -- but claiming stake in with The Greatest requires a bit more in the pushing of boundaries department.
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