Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind EP

By Matthew Reinerts

When Animal Collective released their eighth studio album “Merriweather Post Pavilion” late last January, it was almost too quickly heralded as the album of the year. The album featured some of the best production to be heard on an Animal Collective album, which was extremely refreshing, but a big change from their more raw sound of the past. This seems to be the chosen path as they further explore sound engineering on their forthcoming EP.

On December 15 the group will release a new EP titled “Fall Be Kind.” The EP features five previously unreleased songs, including some they have debuted live during their most recent tour. One of those live songs, “What Would I Want? Sky,” features the first ever licensed Grateful Dead sample. Animal Collective takes a four second sample from The Dead’s 1974 “Unbroken Chain” and creates a near seven minute jam about fleeing a monotonous life for a more stress free, hopeful one.

Album opener “Graze” starts off quietly as vocalist Avey Tare sings, “Let me begin, feels good ’cause it’s early, ease open my eyes, and let light in.” The beginning of “Graze” sounds the way I feel while waking up on a beautiful morning, happy and hopeful for great day. The song then transforms into a lively, and mostly unexpected, electronic polka. It sounds strange, but Animal Collective is a strange band and they make it work.

The third song, “Bleed,” effectively captures the mood of the EP. It is a painful and depressing song that somehow generates an atmosphere of hope. It creates anticipation , that although one may be frustrated with their situation, one must strive on and bleed before they can heal.

“On A Highway” is a narrative about a seemingly endless highway ride. Tare depicts everything he sees in a stream of consciousness fashion, mentioning every detail. It accurately describes the tiredness and longing for home experienced when one is left with nothing but their thoughts on a long, frustrating ride. After each verse, the other vocalist Panda Bear interrupts with a wave of harmony, shouting, “I can’t wait, to find home.” Home is the most comfortable place on earth.

My favorite track on the EP is called “I Think I Can.” It features band member Panda Bear’s hypnotic chanting over music that is evocative of a dark underground world. The first half feels as if it were the soundtrack to an uphill struggle, one heavy, blind step at a time. The second half transforms the album closer into a blissful lullaby, from dark to light, Animal Collective’s “Fall Be Kind” comes full circle from the sunshine heard in the opener “Graze.”

“Fall Be Kind” is an excellent release from one of my favorite bands. Animal Collective continues to mature and create incredible music. “Fall Be Kind” is near perfect. The album art, the song order, the music, and the story told all align for a momentary humanizing experience.

Animal Collective’s “Fall Be Kind” EP is out on Domino Records December 15.