Considering Avey Tare’s seeming reluctance to create a solo album until now — his record with Kria Brekkan being, in retrospect, probably more of a one-off — Down There came swaddled in a lot of questions, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t answer every one of them over the course of its nine tracks:
Will Tare tear up the floorboards of the Animal Collective sound to leave a resounding Solo mark on the indie populace?
No. Unlike Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, Down There isn’t Tare’s coming out party as a lone wolf apart from his pack; rather, it is a further exploration of AT’s contributions to the Animal Collective sound. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that this record could have BEEN the new AC record, flowing as seamlessly from the Merriweather Post Pavillion think-tank as it does. It’s got the hyper-dub beats, effects, melodies, and childish whimsy of Tare’s day job, albeit with maybe a few signatures scrawled across its bow. This is not a discouraging development by any stretch; look at it as a side-road, a detour that will eventually lead you back to the still-being-beaten path.
Is Avey going to show these chillwavers what’s up, or what?
Yes, he most definitely is. Down There carries many of the hallmarks of c-wave in its purse like a pack of mints or set of keys, but it diverges in notable ways. For one, though Tare’s beats tend to drone on for long amounts of time — when he deigns to bother with them, as on “Laughing Hieroglyphic” — his hyperactive imagination ensures that staleness will never be a problem. Unlike the kids that think playing a half-assed guitar “solo” over a beat laced with a sample is all it takes to get all h-nagogic, Avey fucks shit up, bending and twisting his voice like a carnival worker conjuring a floating unicorn out of a balloon or two, sometimes sounding like the Tare we heard via Spirit He’s Gone, sometimes half-echoing (and I’m not kidding here) the labored-but-smooth “jamone”s of the late Michael Jackson. Again, I’m not kidding; he really goes for it on this one, setting off fireworks that fill the sky with neon pinks and purples.
Panda Bear’s the “melodic one,” so how will this aviator navigate harmony without exposing his weakness in this area?
Yes, Avey’s always had a tenuous relationship with pitch, and yes, Panda Bear wrote a lot of the most memorable AC melodies (“Winters Love,” et al.), but you’d be surprised what the zaniest member of a zany group comes up with on his own, sitting at the piano with a stretch of barred paper, a pencil in his ear, and a thoughtful look plastered across his face. When I first heard Down There, I lamented that Tare had buried his voice a bit — perhaps out of self-consciousness? — and now I realize how wrong that assertion was. He’s still a bit trigger-shy, perhaps, but he’s not hiding behind the boisterous mega-bass nor lurking behind the many programmed sequences of tunes like “Heather in the Hospital.”
Avey Tare and PB both had kids, as Merriweather Post Pavillion attested. Are they going soft?
Yes, and I couldn’t be happier about that. As much as I loved their “bang on a tom, felch the closest synth, blow out the sampler” early stuff, Animal Collective managed to turn a corner on Merriweather without losing those that were chasing them down the street. Down There is a continuation of this increasingly docile state, but, again, don’t take that as a negative. The fact that my three-year-old daughter Penny coos whenever I put this album in the car stereo doesn’t exactly make me feel, say, Cool or Rebellious, but the reality remains: these songs are solid as a rock-hard … rock, with no signs of gray trim lightening the edges or brightening the corners artificially. Yes, this is a Sleepy set; “Lucky 1” in particular sounds like it’s wearing a nightcap and asking for a glass of milk before bed, but feeling added responsibility in one’s life is natural as age sets in, and it would be nice if all of us adapted to the changes that come with our early 30s as gracefully as Tare — and Bear — do. GO WITH IT already.
One final question: Should I buy Down There or just download it? My friend said it leaked…
Purchase it, with money, jjjagoff.