Animal Collective Feels

Animal Collective Feels
Those who were expecting New York City’s Animal Collective to fall into a comfortable groove as a quirky, prone-to-spontaneity, band of freak-folkers after last year’s madcap Sung Tongs are in for a rude awakening. Rather than pushing their innate pop sensibilities further into obscurity, the principal duo of Avey Tare and Panda Bear have teamed up with sometimes members Geologist and Deakin to form the closest thing they’ve come to as a traditional rock band. Feels is a rock record, a 180-degree turnabout on Sung Tongs. The material here has a cohesive structure, a full and lush sound, and a strong set of lyrics. Fortunately, in dropping the folk altogether, they’ve held onto all the hooks. In doing so, Animal Collective have moved into the rarefied territory of Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips, Deserter’s Song-era Mercury Rev, and the Elephant 6 collective. In other words, freakishly inclined bands who went on to hone their experiments to a pop mould. The album may disappoint the few fans who will consider its rockisms a safe step, but for everyone else Feels is well worth it. (Fat Cat)