Magnificent, shape-shifting psych-folk

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Animal Collective – Sung Tongs

Although based in cosmopolitan Brooklyn, the Animal Collective’s records often sound more suited to the wilderness; to a campfire and a cabin near Thoreau’s Walden Pond, perhaps. This is rustic and unworldly music, but it’ s far from retrogressive. Instead, the communally-minded Animals?here represented by two of their four core members, Avey Tare and Panda Bear?create something informed by folk, pop, the avant-garde and exuberant ritual. Sung Tongs is their sixth and best album, where gibbering chants and levitational strums are assailed by digital squelch from the undergrowth. There are great tunes (“Leaf House” and “Kids On Holiday”), fragments of tropicalia (“Sweet Road”), forged extracts from Smile (“College”) and plenty of moments which recall The Incredible String Band at their most Dionysian. Rarely has contrived weirdness sounded so utterly bewitching.