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August 17th, 2007

Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam


I’ve spent a few weeks with Animal Collective’s upcoming album Strawberry Jam and it has taken me some time to even attempt to describe it. At first my opinion of it was mixed, I passively enjoyed it but only certain tracks on it really grabbed me. That is, or was rather, until I was in the right mind state to fully grasp what Animal Collective had achieved. Unfortunately, in order to fully understand the chaotic beauty contained within Strawberry Jam, I think it’s necessary for one to be in more of a squalored consciousness than you’re used to. On no sleep, not having eaten for a few days, mind scattered about the room I turned on Strawberry Jam again and heard it for the first time. Playing out as though Nino Rota was given LSD and asked to re-score La Dolce Vita, the driving melody similarly underscoring and resonating through the entire album, only this time through its mainstay, the contemplative piano, is replaced with a twisted array of soaring vocals. The controversial album cover, a bruised and beaten strawberry, obviously serves as a symbolic representation for the broken heart Avey Tare attempts to grapple with in songs such as “For Reverend Green.” With lyrics like, “From one moment to the next…the ins and outs of someones chest who will only be a friend if he touches your breast…I think it’s alright I think we’re together, I think it’s the best we’ve ever played it now” it’s clear that the cover accurately portrays what’s contained within. “For Reverend Green” is immediately followed by the beautiful “Fireworks,” the music now sounds optimistic but the lyrics still show intense sadness and reverie. It’s not until the albums final track, “Derek” that we hear resolution and happiness. Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) rides into town yodeling the lyrics “Should have taken better care of you my dear, sorry when I get unruly when you go on so much I get a little tired” over the clip clop percussion of chalk horse hooves marching through the puddled battleground of love, the song then explodes into an epic declaration and defeat over the enemy. “With you, with you, with you, look inside of the eye of the eye,” Panda Bear sings, an optimistic resolution to an album that continuously struggles with the thoughts of ever finding stable ground again.

(Disclaimer: To be honest a lot of Animal Collective’s lyrics are fairly indecipherable, their stories jumbled and themes often equivocal. I wrote this review a few days ago and listening to Derek again it could just be about a dog, but that’s what I love about lyrics and buried vocals…open to interpretation.)

[download] Animal Collective – For Reverend Green

[download] Animal Collective – Derek

Watch the video for Fireworks:

Upcoming Tour Dates:

WED 9/5 – Avalon – Boston, MA
THUR 9/6 – Le National – Montreal, QC
FRI 9/7 – Bronson Centre Theatre – Ottawa, ON
SAT 9/8 – Phoenix – Toronto, ON
SUN 9/9 – Dionysus Club, Oberlin College – Oberlin, OH (tkts sold to students first)
MON 9/10 – Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
TUE 9/11 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
FRI 9/14 – Neumos – Seattle, WA
SAT 9/15 – Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC
SUN 9/16 – Roseland Theater – Portland, OR
MON 9/17 – The Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco, CA
TUE 9/18 – Henry Fonda Theater – Los Angeles, CA
THUR 9/20 – Rialto Theater – Tucson, AZ
FRI – 9/21 – Club 101 – El Paso, TX
SAT 9/22 – Emos – Austin, TX
SUN – 9/23 – Bricktown Ballroom – Norman, OK
MON 9/24 – Gargoyle Club – St. Louis, MO
TUE 9/25 – Cannery Ballroom – Nashville, TN
WED 9/26 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
THUR 9/27 – Cats Cradle – Carrboro, NC
FRI 9/28 – 9:30 Club – Washington, D.C.
SAT 9/29 – Starlight Ballroom – Philadelphia, PA
SUN 9/30 – Webster Hall – New York, NY
MON 10/1 – Webster Hall – New York, NY


  1. i think it’s pretty perfect. it’s like a rollercoaster when you’re in altered states.

    Comment by irfan — August 17, 2007 @ 10:56 pm
  2. altered state or not, the collective never ceases to blow my mind regardless…
    for reverend green is an epic, beautiful song. so much passion…

    Comment by david — August 17, 2007 @ 11:02 pm
  3. fireworks sounds like that listerine commercial where the bottle is swinging on vines through the jungle. i wish *that* was on youtube

    Comment by jaytee — August 19, 2007 @ 5:54 am
  4. http://httpv://

    it is!

    Comment by jaytee — August 19, 2007 @ 5:55 am
  5. my personal favorite on Strawberry Jam is Derek.

    Comment by Jennifer — February 11, 2008 @ 8:57 am
  6. […] just in: Animal Collective will be releasing Water Curses, their much anticipated follow-up to Strawberry Jam, on May 6. According to its press release, “All tracks find Animal Collective exploring […]

  7. ran across your ‘review’.
    re-listening to s.j.—merriwheather pavilion is absolutely danceable. i mean go-wild-danceable. looking forward to seeing these guys in June 2009 =).

    Comment by Jennifer — February 15, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

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