on November 24, 2009
Animal collective have struck gold again. Not only are the three leftover tracks from MPP great (Graze, I Think I Can, and On A Highway), but the entire EP is a brilliant and a wonderfully new style for the band, who have put out their best EP to date. With its run time of twenty seven minutes, Fall Be Kind has almost enough substance and style to be called an album of its own. The dark, cold, and vibrant textures are brilliantly contrasted with Animal Collective's ability to bring out their inner-jam. As accessible as their music has become, they've lost only a very small amount of psychedelia along the way; and this is coming from someone who thinks Here Comes The Indian is just as good as Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Graze (10/10): The beginning two minutes and a half of the song is a light, ambient vocal showcase which starts with Avey Tare backed with a beautiful violin and is followed by a nice solo from Panda Bear, both backed by hardly a rhythm but more of a texture. It's all really a perfect build up for the second half when it all fuzzes out until BAM! the most kickin' flute solo most will have ever heard. Then the avey and panda duo kicks in with: "Comfort, comfort,/ why do you run for it?/ why can't you keep doin/ what you're supposed to do? / Why can't i reach you/ when i most need you? / you're at the beach and/ i'm in some strange bed." And the rhythm takes you in while you find yourself nodding your head to the beat.
What would i want? Sky (10/10): Again showing the band's flawless method of blending two different jams into one great song. The first three minutes is just pure jam-tripping with Avey's mysterious "good genes?" looping in the background with crashing cymbols until the trip slows down, but quickly you find yourself venturing new territory before "Sky, What would i want? Sky," the notorious first legal Grateful Dead Sample, followed by some nice booming bass, and the jam begins. Though Avey's voice sounds a little production-y here, it all works nicely.
Bleed (8/10): A perfect middle-song. The darker side Avey spoke of in interviews is clearly present here. Mostly texture, juxtaposing Avey's slow droning-voice style with Panda bear's almost echo-y, smooth backdrop. It's short, sweet, and dark, and a perfect transition between the two halves of the EP.
On A Highway (9/10): A perfect opportunity to ride on the highway with David Portner (Avey Tare). The slow, ambient, highway-like sounds work perfectly behind Avey's inner thoughts as he rides down the highway, smoking hash, looking out the window, and just thinking about how although he should feel lucky for all the places he gets to go, he really just can't wait to be home.
I Think I Can (9/10): Perfect example of the band's fearlessness and progression; the song explores new styles while becoming one of their most intense songs to date, featuring a nice ensemble of layering vocals via Panda and Avey. The fire is eventually put out, though, when the song shifts tones quickly in the form of a dazzling Beach Boys-type vocal performance by Panda Bear followed by a repeated "I think I can I think I can I think I..." This one you will just have to hear for yourself.
I have to admit, though, my review is biased because I'm a huge fan. (and no i'm not a hipster, just a regular dude)
on November 19, 2013
Coming off Merriweather Post Pavilion, I had high hopes for their inevitable follow-up EP, and somehow they still lived up to the hype. "Graze" is such a weird and compelling track (and the pan flute is awesome!). "What Would I Want? Sky" is as good as anything they've ever done. I wouldn't say this is the best starting point for listeners new to AC, but anyone who is a fan of the band will cherish this outing.
It's been a pretty wild year for the Animal Collective, introducing a new sound and a new album of experimental pop music. As a finishing touch to their latest efforts, they also turned out a new EP -- "Fall Be Kind" is a cascade of weird, wild and alluring musical journeys, but the second half is a bit of on the monotonous side. Not bad exactly, but not as intense as they're capable of being.
It starts off on a light note with "Graze," a silvery little melody that trembles and shimmers over the piano and guitar. At first it sounds like birds flying over a sylvan glade, only to slowly shift into a joyous, slightly loopy dance melody strung through with flutes. Or maybe it's panpipes. You can almost see the frolicking nymphs when you hear it.
"Why Would I Want Sky?" shifts into a darker sound, almost industrial at times. There's a stretch of blurred voices overlaid with weird noises and slow-moving riffs... which dissolves into a mournful, softer dirge, and finally shifts upward again with the sound of shimmering strings, and the repeated question, "What would I want sky? What would I want sky?"
These two songs are undoubtedly the high point of the entire album -- they're atmospheric without being heavy, and have plenty of weird eerie instrumentation that floats the listener away on a cloud. And while the first is a light, airy affair, it also segues into a darker and more contemplative melody -- it has the right mix of ambient eeriness and soaring pop melodies. No complaints here.
The problem is that after that, the next three songs sort of blur together, as if they're one big song split into three -- I wouldn't have minded "Bleeding," "On a Highway" and "I Think I Can" as one vast experimental song. But they all have much the same feel, relying on a grey ambient sound with lots of blurry echoing vocals and sharp percussions. None of them are actually bad, but sandwiched together they feel... very repetitive. I kept waiting for something new, and it never came.
One thing that cannot be faulted is Animal Collective's instrumental prowess -- they create dense swathes of beautifully atmospheric music, no matter what the mood. Instead they layer on heavy depths of synth, and twine it together with piano, a shimmering violin melody, slow-grinding basslines, a dancing flute melody, heavy spurts of guitar, and all sorts of percussion (from clattering drumsticks to clapping hands and stomping feet). Oh yes, and one of the songs actually has a licensed Grateful Dead sample... the first ever, apparently.
And Avey Tare's vocals almost serve as another instrument -- half the time I can't understand what the man is saying, but his shifting echoing voice slips through the music like a carp through murky water. And when you can hear him, he sounds incredibly earnest when he sings nonsensical-sounding phrases like "What would I want sky?" or "And I don't want/To keep myself/From good..."
"Fall Be Kind" opens with a brilliant duo of experimental pop songs, but slips into repetition in its second half. If that part had been spiced up, this would have been a spectacular EP.
on April 7, 2013
After Animal Collective's much lauded Merriwether Post Pavilion was released to all its fanfare, it was a wonder what direction the band would take. Would we see a return to the more (pardon my pun) animalistic nature of Here Comes The Indian, the lush sounds of Feels, or would the listener be taken even further down the path of psychedelic pop music? With Fall Be Kind, the band hit on all three of these aspects and much more. "Graze" opens up as a serene, laid back song, with Avey Tare's vocals drowned in effects and reverb. Sounding like a more floating version of Merriwether's "Bluish", "Graze" suddenly turns a one-eighty, and a flute sample opens the listener up to Animal Collective's weird world that is Fall Be Kind.
Yet for the dichotomy "Graze" presents, this EP decides to stay in one place, in that moody, dreary world where clouds cover the sun, and the raindrops fall slightly on the windowpane. "What Would I Want Sky?", with its first ever licensed Grateful Dead sample, continues where the beginning of "Graze" left off: slow pads and atmosphere, and the vocals of Avey Tare and Panda Bear being drenched in reverb and effects to create a heavy mood. Although the ending melodies come off as a tad more upbeat, this song tends to feed the darkness that pervades this EP.
Now this is not to sound like Fall Be Kind is a bad record, to the contrary, it is beautiful, if a bit moody. The textures and vocals are airy and slick, the melodies prevalent, and the percussion limited, but hard-hitting when it appears. "Bleed" is the track that perfectly pictures the mood and tone of the EP, with heavy droning noises among the vocal calls, a track that is trance inducing in its simplicity and beauty.
Panda Bear's "I Think I Can" holds place at the tail end of the EP, and like most Panda Bear written songs, leaves us on a slightly positive note. The music is more upbeat, and it can be seen as the sunlight beginning to peak through the clouds, with the rousing ending of "I Think I Can" providing a nice end-note to Animal Collective's melancholy record.
Fall Be Kind is nothing short of gorgeous. Although it can suffer from feeling a bit too morose at times, it easily eclipses Merriwether in the Animal Collective catalog, and makes a strong case for being the best EP, if not the best work they have constructed. A highly recommended listen.
on November 28, 2009
This is a great EP. It has all the great production work and unique songwriting skills as Merriweather, but to me it seems a little more free and adventurous. I like every moment on the EP. Some might complain about the the "darker", "ambient", or "experimental" moments but to me they seem completely natural and organic. And it's not as dark as I was lead to believe. I find it a rather uplifting record and great fun to listen to. They seem to be masters at what they are doing at this time, just cranking out idea after idea. To me what sets Animal Collective apart from other groups is their genuineness, freedom, and their talent for perfecting songs into works of art that people will listen to for a long time.
on February 13, 2010
To tell the truth, this is probably one of the best EPs I have ever heard. Most of the people probably would get shocked. Animal Collective? EP? The best? Yeah, sounds crazy. It is, actually.
While being the fan on Animal Collective even before 'Merriweather' (which is also very surprising), I got to listen to this, as soon as possible. I was very anxious and excited about it. I saw some first reviews on amazon here which were not really positive, but I still was hoping for at least something good.
When I finally started with 'Graze', I got a bit disappointed and thought that pessimistic people were right.. But then 'What Would I Want? Sky' came up. I literally fell on my knees. I have not heard such beauty of the song, since probably I met with 'Katy Song' by Red House Painters. I dare to say that 'What Would I Want? Sky', 'Bleed' and 'I Think I Can' are one of the best songwriting examples. It's hard to believe it, but it's alternative; it is not Coldplay, Backstreet Boys or Lady Gaga were you fall for melody easily, you don't need effort to like it, the song makes you do it (in my case, it's just Coldplay, but I see how big were/are the others). Animal Collective requires time. I cannot imagine a person who would jump from Diana Krall, Black Eyed Peas or something straightly to Animal Collective. It's just not that it. And if you do put effort in liking Animal Collective, it is very rewarding, now myself I want sky more than anything else.
Just 27 minutes, but minutes I spent greatly and I don't regret. Please, don't listen to negative reviews, because they failed to do what I've already mentioned - to listen. This is no Pink for you guys, it's way more better. Better is always more complicated.
It is hard to recommend it to someone, because I believe that anyone can like this, but does anyone want to do it? People may better stay with what's easier.. Anyway, any indie fan should listen to this.. Any Merriweather fan, though 'Fall Be Kind' is a bit different. Just don't throw this away after a few listens. You may waste way more than six dollars.
- What Would I Want? Sky
- I Think I Can
on January 1, 2010
On a purely subjective scale, taking into account that A. I know nothing about music and B. am primarily a fan of electronic music and heavy metal, this EP is decent.
However, it has only one good song: What Would I Want? Sky. Graze and Bleeding are okay. The other two (On A Highway, I Think I Can) delve too deeply into mushy, distorted-sounding psychedelia type things and wind up dragging the album down.
Even the good songs could use a bit of pruning. As distasteful as the concept of a "radio edit" is, chopping the first 2:30 off of What Would I Want? Sky would make it much more palatable. It is quite enjoyable once the lyric and sample kicks in, but the lengthy dull intro seems to add little to the experience.
Graze pairs another lengthy intro with psycholodelic-sounding lyrics, again changing to a much more upbeat tune with what sounds like a wooden flute and a heavy bass synth midway through the song's length. In this case, however, the intro works better.
Bleeding is a slow, quasi-brooding track, with distorted lyrics that form a sort of call-and-response pattern. It's not exactly my favorite song, but not enough that I wind up reaching for the Next Song button, like the last two tracks do.
on March 1, 2010
Ultimately plays like a session of side-dishes, but when coming off the creative feast that was MPP, one can't criticize too harshly as the band surely gears up to explore yet new sonic territory.
on December 5, 2009
I hate to say it, but I'm starting to look forward to Animal Collective's upcoming EPs and singles more than their proper albums. Where their LPs are becoming ever more conventional, these side releases still pay attention to texture and space. That said, the sound of "Fall be Kind" is fairly similar to the songs on Merriweather Post Pavilion, and as such, plays as a nice companion piece to that album.
Tracks 2-5 are all excellent, but "Graze" keeps this from being a 5 star recording. With a dramatic vocal by Avey Tare and a loopy pan flute jig, it almost resembles Animal Collective doing Gilbert & Sullivan--something I never thought could be possible (nor would want to).
Still, there's some great stuff on here. In truth, the inclusion of some of these tracks on Merriweather would have given that album some much-needed variety of mood. Worth a listen.
on January 18, 2010
Great to hear them back to their old style with a mix a Merriweather Post Pavilion. Good stuff. :)