Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (Cover Artwork)

Animal Collective

Animal Collective: Strawberry JamStrawberry Jam (2007)

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
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Contributed by: SimpleSongSimpleSong
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Each year, there are a handful of artists who put out new records that blow our minds, disappoint or surprise us. In the final quarter of 2007, noise pop vanguard Animal Collective give us Strawberry Jam, their first album for Domino. Now rubbing prestigious elbows with bands such as Franz Ferdinan.
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Each year, there are a handful of artists who put out new records that blow our minds, disappoint or surprise us. In the final quarter of 2007, noise pop vanguard Animal Collective give us Strawberry Jam, their first album for Domino. Now rubbing prestigious elbows with bands such as Franz Ferdinand and Clinic, the Collective's sound seems ready to spread itself even further than blogs and hipsters. But Animal Collective have done a much more important thing with Strawberry Jam than make a "commercial" album, or whatever: they've made an Animal Collective album, the next in a long line of fabulously artistic, musical statements by the band.

Coursing the Collective canon does not bring us to a new album thinking, "This will definitely sound like _______." From the fractured electronic pulses of Danse Manatee to the freeform acoustic guitar stroking of Campfire Songs, charting a linear artistic path for these guys is problematic. However, starting with Here Comes the Indian, there could be something we could relatively recognize as an "Animal Collective sound." Still heavy on loops and weird noises-as-percussion, the pop movements and general kid-like playfulness evoked in their sound has been increasingly evident since Indian. And here on Strawberry Jam the sound still prevails and evolves.

Storming out the gates is first single, "Peacebone." The chaotic electronics sound autonomous from the song, and if you have not seen the group live since Feels came out, chances are this sounds like a mess. Panda Bear's tribal stomp drumming ushers in the pulse that carries the song throughout. Though the aggressiveness of "Peacebone" is lost a little in the studio, the chorus is still something of beauty. Their songs may feel playful, but it's the inner depth of a child's psyche that the band can explore so beautifully at times, as in "Peacebone": "And an obsession with the past is like a kid flying / Just a few things are related to the old times / When we did believe in magic and we didn't die / It's not my words that you should follow, it's your insight."

The melancholy expressed in "Fireworks," one of the album's excellent tracks, genuinely sounds like somebody wondering, out loud, "What's the day? What's you doing? How's your mood?‚?¶And I can't lift you up, my mind is tired." This song also expresses one of the Collective's patient traits in that they can easily ride a simple percussive thump through a six-plus minute song while meditating on very real, human mundaneness. But everybody raves about their musical endeavors, their penchant for pushing stagnant pop music forward with a tear-it-all-down-and-make-something-from-the-deconstruction tendency. And of course, they do.

On the Panda Bear-sung "Chores," he opens the song with "If I think too fast," stretching the "if" out for seconds before the song explodes all over the place. For those familiar with Animal Collective, the opening stretch of the first syllable might sound like somebody inhaling greatly and exhaling out a fucking galaxy; sometimes their songs are just that euphoric. The drums start pounding away by accenting the vocals and chords, while Panda's wonderful harmonies drape over the noise. Though the song ends in a sort of quieted chanting, the preceding spastic bursts of energy are examples of the kind of uninhibited energy that a lot of self-conscious bands would steer clear of for fear of sounding sloppy. Further evidence is "Cuckoo Cuckoo," a drilling number that thrashes hard and mixes up very heavy pounding with discordant grind; all this with messy cooing and a light piano line covering the whole mess.

Things have been pushed forward once again. The only thing close to being a miss on here is the Yes-like keyboard looped "#1," which sounds like smoking weed at space camp. Even this track, which is basically a looping keyboard line with weird lazer noises and wordless melodies, holds some interest and is -- if anything -- a little break between other brilliances. Animal Collective tap into something very fundamentally appealing in music, and it probably falls somewhere between the very childlike approach to melody, instrumentation, experimentation, etc. Strawberry Jam comes out of the box highly recommended for its excitement it brings for music in general, and for Animal Collective's unparalleled musical vision.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Spooky (July 13, 2010)

This just might be their all-time best release. This is definitely my favorite thing they've done so far and with "Fall Be Kind", it sounds like they're taking it even further down the path of greatness. Insanely good band..

WorldOfChaos (May 19, 2008)

Great album.
Weird album.
But great album.

greg0rb (September 22, 2007)

Not sure what to think of this yet. I got into them after Sung Tongs, and grew to love that they sounded like no one else. With these next two albums they've started to sound like a more 'normal' rock band... still not really though. I don't think I like how well you can understand the lyrics on Jam... I love just hootin and holler whatever I want along with them! Well I need more time with this I think.

omgfishcatlol (September 20, 2007)

Get this faggot shit off the internet

benz (September 20, 2007)

And "#1" is really good, if you like the other songs, this one is just as good.

benz (September 20, 2007)

This album is incredibly good. One of the best of the year. And the "peacebone" video is also one of the best of the year.

Watch it:


Scruffy (September 20, 2007)

Guy below me: Breathe. Try to use some punctuation next time.

xote (September 20, 2007)

I fucking love Animal Collective and I fucking love this album, if you havent liked any of the other Animal Collective records you will not like this though it's still the same band they just change a little bit with each record and ep. And to all of you saying they're doing this just so Pitchfork will like them FUCK YOU they play music for same reasons any other "punk band" plays music becuase they like the music they make as do I.

Ianw (September 19, 2007)

the best audience reaction i have ever seen was when wolf eyes opened for this band

It was brutal

steveman (September 19, 2007)

Album of the year for stoners.

Overall, just a great release. Haven't stopped spinning it yet.

youwinalemon (September 19, 2007)

Fuck yes.

If it wasn't for Sunset Rubdown, this would easily be album of the year for me.

bombshoes (September 19, 2007)

yess. this album blows my mind. such a big progression from feels.

i-type-poorly (September 18, 2007)

Score is totally not for the album cover. One of the ugliest album covers I have ever seen.

Holy_Balls (September 18, 2007)

allmusic is stoked! they can make up a new genre now!

i-type-poorly (September 18, 2007)

This is the best thing Panda Bear has ever done. AC ha salways been pretty good, interesting at worst, but this just blows the rest out of the water.

counterfiction (September 18, 2007)

I have to say, I can't quite figure this record out. It sounds like it's weird for the sake of being weird. Maybe I should smoke a ton more pot . . .

leecorsoisapenis (September 18, 2007)

I'm gonna have to agree with DrGunn. Many of my friends love this band more than their respective others, but I could never get into them. I have heard this album is amazing from so many people, but I couldn't get into any of their last three. Maybe one more chance?


Torgo (September 18, 2007)

Whoops, that was supposed to be 4 stars. I blew it.

Torgo (September 18, 2007)

Very good, Feels was better though.

DrGunn (September 18, 2007)

perhaps i need to give them another shot, but everything i have heard from this band is fucking terrible.

marcusd (September 18, 2007)

i really love this album.

Archangel (September 18, 2007)

Ughhhh I am so God damn sick of freak folk. Animal Collective does some good shit, but there are moments when I'm listening and all I can think is, "The only reason they did that really annoying noise is to get Pitchfork to flip their shit."

nocigar (September 18, 2007)

i've never heard this band being played on my college radio stations..oh well, i enjoy them.

GlassPipeMurder (September 18, 2007)

college radio DJs just creamed all over their MacBooks.

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