Don't Drink the Koolaid: Animal Collective is really just two Beach Boys records playing at the same time

Ever wonder how critical consensus comes about -- how all of the sudden the whole world just seems to inexplicably share the exact same opinion on a particular artist, occurence or topic? (The recent Taylor Swift Grammy backlash is a great example of this phenomenon.)

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Here's what happens: Essentially, one, two (or several) revered oracles weigh in on something with extreme decisiveness and authority. And then, because their voice is so strong and their take so trusted, their opinions instantly becomes gospel, embraced by countless other people who get paid to have opinions -- people like, well, like us.

From there, our fellow self-ordained knowallogists then begin parroting the same sentiments ad infinitum until an echo chamber-like effect develops, and eventually we've all reached the same conclusion -- whether we actually have or not.

What if someone along the way -- lets call them the voice of reason, shall we -- stood up and vehemently screamed "BULLSHIT!" at the top of their lungs? Welcome to Don't Drink the Koolaid, our latest feature in which we step into the role of pop culture contrarian and pee on the leg of critical consensus. This week, we're calling BULLSHIT on Animal Collective.

Animal Collective is a band appreciated and loved by so many to the extent major news sites have gone off and done full features on what it is about the band that makes people fall in love. They are revered, praised, gushed upon by every major and minor music magazine and blog as though they are the second coming of the Beach Boys.

And that is exactly what they are: play two Beach Boys records at the same time and you have an Animal Collective album.

The boys have proven their merit with some truly exciting and great songs like "Who Could Win a Rabbit," "Grass" and "My Girls," but really, honestly, who listens to and enjoys a full album of their work? In an impromptu poll we've found the definitive answer: NOBODY WE KNOW.

The reason is simple: This is circus music. Its weird, uninterrupted repetition gets old. Fast. For all its color, it lacks character. For every single, there is a corresponding track like "Cuckoo Cuckoo."

Then we'll get the EPs -- boring collections of songs that go nowhere fast and fail to experiment or play. Tracks like "Street Flash" sound like something Tom Waits would have discarded on the cutting room floor. The tussle between avant-garde and pop is the supposed appeal of the band -- but is that even true? Is there anything actually pop about a band that loops shit and hollers like a drunken coked-out Brian Wilson?

For what's its worth, we think half their albums sound more suited to children's shows than Pitchfork ga-ga lists. And no, we're not stupid and we're not just being spiteful. We've listened to every album multiple times -- you don't not listen to the New York Time's second best album of the year.

And all this listening hasn't gotten us anywhere on it. Even in the infant stages of the band, pre-hype, when were pretending to really be into Sung Tongs and Here Comes the Indian we didn't actually get it. Record scratches prove that the A side to Sung Tongs took considerable more abuse than the rest.

The weirdest thing about the Animal Collective following is that fans are so passionate and predisposed to like whatever the band does, and frankly, it hasn't done shit differently since Sung Tongs. There hasn't been a progression, a movement, each album is slightly weird, but not too weird. It's quirky, but not too quirky.

Without fail their singles will feature a well-placed hook in the midst of bellowing backwards vocal loop. We're not saying it's a bad thing, we're saying it's played out now. Boring. Insipid. Worse, the entire music listening world seems to think this is the greatest thing since the Beatles. which is pathetic.

When we think of great bands, we think of progression. We think of an album, a moment, a song that really steps out, but we just don't feel there is anything like that in Animal Collective's repertoire, which is fine for a five-year-lifespan pop band -- but claiming stake in with The Greatest requires a bit more in the pushing of boundaries department.


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25 comments
NIagraRoyala
NIagraRoyala

I had never heard of this website prior to someone linking me to this. I no longer speak to this person.

Alex Rizzo
Alex Rizzo

Guys, this is a real piece of writing that a human being took the time to write. Unfortunately, it's not written on paper, and so I can't poop on it. Too bad.

Shane Fayke
Shane Fayke

You're really putting too much thought into this. Do you like the band? Yes? Cool, me too. No? That's fine. How about you stop worrying what a bunch of critics think and only care about whether or not you like the music?

Dronerazor
Dronerazor

Who the fuck is the line editor for this drivel?

"All of the sudden" "What if someONE... screamed... at the top of THEIR lungs?"

I've seen better copy at a highschool newspaper.

Native Belle
Native Belle

Animal Collective is the best thing that has happened to music since Radiohead. I thoroughly enjoy everything they've ever released including those "boring" eps and tracks like Cuckoo Cuckoo. They aren't hiding the fact that they lifted the verse melody of Guys Eyes from All I Wanna Do, they are huge Beach Boys fans and it's just another artistic technique to take parts of old songs and rework them.I went to one of their shows in april and it was the greatest musical experience of my life and I've seen a lot of amazing shows. I even met them and they were wonderful guys.I call BULLSHIT on you, author. They are on a whole other level that you'll never be able to understand.

wandering star
wandering star

i just saw animal collective last night-- never heard them before-- i had gotten a free ticket. personally i was trying to get it and for a couple songs i danced and felt the positive energy from the crowd...

but, for most times very bored and wondering what all the hype was. now i dig some pretty weird stuff that others usually don't get...

this article pretty much summed up my feelings for last night.

thank you for helping me make sense as to what i was feeling.

Bippadotta
Bippadotta

Wow - spot on...never heard Animal Collective until someone told me "Guys Eyes" was a rip of "All I Wanna Do". I may not know Animal Collective, but I bleed Brian Wilson.

If "My Sweet Lord" was copped from "He's So Fine", then surely "Guys Eyes" is pure plagiarism! I thought is was a mix of "All I Wanna Do" until I realized it was a (so-called) original work!

To anyone that simply responds "You don't get it" should heed their own words. "All I Wanna Do" was released in 1970 - before any of Animal Collective were born.

.tiM
.tiM

Here's a good rule of thumb for you from the incomparable Mark Twain: "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we.' "

Aside from that mis-step, this article is just about perfect. Kudos to Thorin for calling bullshit on this terribly over-hyped band. Can you do Dirty Projectors next time?

Yail Bloor
Yail Bloor

Someone's trying really hard to be cool. Alas, it is not working.

adam
adam

Animal Collective albums are uninhibited, unpretentious expression of human character. They're like a party to which everyone's invited. And for most, it's a great time.Uninhibited fun always looks bad when you analyze it. Especially through the cold jaded lens of "the music critic."Way to piss on the party Westord, next time just stay home when you're in a bad mood.

neck beard
neck beard

Hmmmmm. I was listening to the new Animal Collective EP last night with headphones, hearing a Spiders From Mars era David Bowie influence. Absolutely loving it!

How can anyone call bullshit on this band? They are taking classic influences and creating something wonderful. They have grown with every album and keep getting better. Name me another band that gets better with each album -- besides the Beatles. Or do you call bullshit on the Beatles, too?

I concur with "peter frampton". You're a fucking dumbass.

Branda
Branda

Brandon, you simply don't get it, do you?

Brandon
Brandon

FINALLY!!! This is the most overhyped bullshit machine to call itself a band in a long time. Kudos Westword, kudos.

Gigi
Gigi

What do you mean by "who listens to and enjoys a full album of their work"???I do! I do! Almost every single day! When I wake up, when I'm on the bus, when I'm in a bad mood, before I go to sleep.

You have the right not to like their music, but this is only your opinion. It sounds like you're frustrated about not understanding why so many people think differently.

In general, you can never ever say 'BULLSHIT' about someone's art. If it doesn't get to you, simply don't listen to it and don't write about it.

Gigi

Andrew
Andrew

Wow. I mean, wow. I really can't think of any other band that has actually molded its sound and progressed into a finely-tuned auditory mechanism of pleasurable design more than Animal Collective. And I'll be the first to admit - early releases such as prospect hummer, danse manatee, and here comes the indian definitely lack coherence and are almost more ethereal than anything. But, with tracks on their later releases you can hear the group defining their style and coming together as a cohesive group. MPP is by far their most complete release to date, with every song having its own appeal. Furthermore, to say that for every great AC song is an equally poor B-side single is such a moot point to argue with. I like pizza. Love it, in fact. I could very well eat it for every meal if I lacked self-control. I will never, however, get a pizza with pineapple on it. Why? It's a shitty topping. Does that mean that pizza is overhyped, over-eaten, and receives more praise than it deserves? To me, no. Likewise with AC. I can safely say I agree with nothing in this article, especially the main premise of this feature. I can think of plenty of art forms where, despite what the wise, all-knowing "oracles" say (who are these two or three people, by the way?) the masses go completely in the opposite direction (think: any of the awful blockbuster movies that millions see vs. any of the incredibly critically-acclaimed movies that nobody sees).

You may be right; people may just be jumping on AC bandwagon because they are supposed to be, you know, the music of the future and all of that stuff. Most people buy into the mass media frenzy and say how much they love their Vespa scooters, their Crocs, chai mochas, expensive hemp sweaters, Macbooks, Twitter accounts, poetry, art, and "independent" thinking But, you want to know why I think people like Animal Collective so much?

They're good.

Eston
Eston

This article is laughable. You (author) simply do not get it. What is good to you? I would like to know.

nicjae
nicjae

I like this new feature! Nice to get some new and varied opinions out here on the interwebs. Thx.

Bippadotta
Bippadotta

As I posted above - listen to All I Wanna Do by the Beach Boys. I say Bullshit because they basically copped someone ELSE'S art!

Buttholes
Buttholes

Is the author purposely this stupid or...

Lol
Lol

are you familiar with the revolutionary Andy Warhol? you simply do not get it, which is sad

XXXXX
XXXXX

Don't all artists do that at some point?

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