New Animal Collective: Honeycomb/Gotham

Whenever Animal Collective releases new music, it begs to be analyzed and critiqued. This new release, a two-track 7″ that will likely feature one of their singles off of their upcoming record (Honeycomb) and another track that will probably be a B-side (Gotham), is (thankfully?) far less abstract than their release from earlier this month, Transverse Temporal Gyrus. Yeah, Animal Collective is releasing a lot of new music as of late and it appears that there will be more on the way. Life is good.

It’s hard to talk about Animal Collective nowadays because, at this point, there’s so much to draw from and so much to put into context. They’ve been making music for over a decade and now Avey Tare and Noah Lennox are going off and embarking on their own solo efforts. Tare’s solo LP, Down There, was one of my favorite albums of 2010 and has really held up to multiple listens, while Lennox, under the guise of Panda Bear, has been hugely successful. 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion sort of changed everything, giving them a more mainstream sound but also keeping them in the realm of critical adoration. It was truly career-defining. At this point, each new release contributes to this complex patchwork they’ve created over the years that furthers the discussion of where they belong in the “most influential bands of the 2000s” discussion.

It’s hard to say much about their upcoming album because, well, it isn’t out yet and not a whole lot is known about it. But if “Honeycomb” is in fact on it, my expectations are set extremely high. No, “Honeycomb” isn’t the best thing they’ve ever done, but it is incredibly good and firmly puts to rest the idea that AnCo will go in a more Here Comes the Indian-y direction as a response to the mainstream acceptance of MPP. Here Comes the Indian is a very good album, but going back to that place of intense experimentation would seem like taking a step back in their intriguing evolution. This next album doesn’t have to be twelve variation on “My Girls,” but an album that deftly strikes that balance between risk and lovely pop sound would be ideal. “Honeycomb” is frantic and would totally work on Strawberry Jam or Feels. It sounds a bit like “Water Curses,” at least in construction. It’s addictive as hell. “Gotham” is more even-keeled, by Animal Collective standards, but it’s another case of them really hitting an emotional high note. It’s lyrically bizarre, but you still can’t help but find this weird sense of poignancy amid the apparent nonsense. Both songs are worthy additions to the Animal Collective library.

Honeycomb: A

Gotham: B+


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