Animal Collective Sung Tongs

[FatCat; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental folk, psychedelic rock, abstract rock
Others: Campfire Songs, Avey Tare & Panda Bear, Comets on Fire

Last year was a prosperous year for the four young Brooklyn gents known as Animal Collective. Releasing two new albums and re-releasing two others, we wondered if they were trying to retire early or if they just lost their minds? They basically busted into the scene head-on with the albums Campfire Songs, Here Comes the Indian, Spirit They're Gone Spirit They've Vanished, and Danse Manatee. With apparently no time to waste, the animals have quickly returned for another round this year. However, for their latest outing, Sung Tongs, only two of the four animals share the spotlight (Avey Tare and Panda Bear), unveiling a decisively more mature transition from Here Comes the Indian.

The two major releases of 2003 by this collective were Here Comes the Indian and Campfire Songs. Each album was aesthetically different, yet both were equally affective in creating a certain type of mood upon their recipients. Neither really received major acclaim, but they did create a spark in the underground and attracted many different types of music fans in the process; mainly those of the experimental folk genre. For me personally, I enjoyed Campfire Songs more than the other, which makes it much easier to compare this album to their Campfire Songs moniker than it does Animal Collective. Therefore, it only seems logical that I would prefer Sung Tongs over Indian.

The album consists of lightly plucked acoustic guitar strums and smoothly whispered vocals from Avey Tare. At times, you'd almost believe that you were whisked away to the late '60s. The major difference, however, and the reason this could fit in the Animal Collective mold, is due to its inconsistent song structures. There is no punk rock here and there are no rough edges either. In a lot of cases, the vocals appear only as instruments and rarely have anything significant to say; except for the duos hilarious play with words such as "mouth" and "water." And maybe the fact that they tell us "we don't have to go to College."

Holistically, there's nothing remarkably new here that hasn't been pursued before by this collective. The execution is nice and easily situates this album in the top two of their performances, and the sound quality far surpasses their previous efforts. I will admit that it didn't take long for me to realize that I prefer this album much more than Indian. If you had a tough time deciding which album you liked better last year, this will cure your uncertainty. It's a perfect balance of the two, and quite an enjoyable album to listen to.

1. Leaf House
2. Who Could Win a Rabbit
3. The Softest Voice
4. Winters Love
5. Kids on Holiday
6. Sweet Road
7. Visiting Friends
8. College
9. We Tigers
10. Mouth Wooed Her
11. Good Lovin' Outside
12. Whaddit I Done