As you might have seen by now, Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” has done rather well in Uncut’s Best Of 2009 poll. “MPP” came out in early January, and a continuously active year has now climaxed with a reissue for “Campfire Songs” and this, “Fall Be Kind”, a fairly extraordinary new EP.

As you might have seen by now, Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” has done rather well in Uncut’s Best Of 2009 poll. “MPP” came out in early January, and a continuously active year has now climaxed with a reissue for “Campfire Songs” and this, “Fall Be Kind”, a fairly extraordinary new EP.



Apologies for having teased about this for the past few weeks: there’s been an embargo on early reviewing imposed by the band, presumably as a response to the pre-release feeding frenzy which introduced “Merriweather Post Pavilion” to the world. If one of the stories preceding “MPP” – that it would reflect Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox’s “Person Pitch” solo jam – turned out to be not quite true, the outstanding track on “Fall Be Kind” does, a little, being a lush and intricate web of loops, rooted in a snatch of Phil Lesh’s vocal from The Grateful Dead’s wonderful “Unbroken Chain”.

This is “What Would I Want? Sky”, one of the very best songs in Animal Collective’s increasingly substantive catalogue. Like much of “Fall Be Kind”, it’s mellower and more reflective than the ecstatic flurries of “MPP”, but every bit as catchy. The overt dance influence has been toned down, too: if “MPP” was an early harbinger of spring, it’s easy to take the “Fall” reference in the EP title very literally, with all the moods it traditionally signifies.

That said, when the opening “Graze” begins with a distant Disney fanfare and (I think) Avey Tare intoning, “Let me begin, feels good ‘cos it’s early,” the atmosphere is dewy and tentative rather than melancholy. Tare has never sounded calmer and less fervid, and the spaciousness which surrounds his unusually mature vocal, the faintly orthodox songcraft, all combine to remind me a bit of Grizzly Bear circa “Yellow House” – until, that is, a typically capricious, jittery panpipe jig arrives to break up the reverie.

As the EP progresses into its heart, though, the mood does become glassier, dreamer, more disorienting; reminiscent, perhaps, of some of the “Water Curses” EP. “Bleed” is one of Panda Bear’s almost sacred, aerated sighs-as-songs, while “On A Highway” is a dazed, albeit very catchy standby of the overworked band, the song about touring.

Even by the standards of that genre, though, Avey Tare’s lyrics are pointedly banal and confessional, as he admits being neurotic, distracted, stoned, sick from too much reading and jealous of “Noah’s dreaming”. There are times here when AC’s old habit of submerging their vocals has its attractions: “On a highway there are some workers pissing/ It starts my bladder itching/ Can I wait for the exit?” He’s rarely sounded more like Jonathan Donahue, too.

Finally, “I Think I Can”, an overlapping chant (shades of “Sung Tongs”, electrified, maybe) that would’ve fitted pretty neatly into the middle section of “Merriweather Post Pavilion”. “Will I get to move on soon?” it ends, with that curious combination of yearning and euphoria that increasingly seems to be an Animal Collective trademark.

Incredible music, anyhow, available now I think: let me know what you think when you’ve had a listen. Watch out, too, for the Pantha Du Prince album that’s just arrived, featuring Lennox, which I’ll write something about soon.