Animal Collective Sung Tongs

Animal Collective Sung Tongs
Sung Tongs opens with the sound of something otherworldly landing, and it’s the only introductory sound that could both do this brilliant album justice and prepare listeners for the overwhelming mass of vocal harmonies and crystalline acoustics that follow it. Easily the most original album released yet this year, Sung Tongs doesn’t sound quite like anything else. Sure, there are touchstones like the Microphones, the Flaming Lips, the Jeweled Antler Collective and the Unicorns, but Sung Tongs seems possessed by a rich vitality that isn’t even present on previous Animal Collective efforts. In essence, this is creative genius at its most flourishing and flowing. In fact, this is the sixth Animal Collective album, and it finds the group at their most accessible. It’s also a drastic full-circle turn (after the epic psych-rock stomping of last year’s Here Comes the Indian) that brings the band back to their beginnings — Sung Tongs is most sonically akin to the group’s ghostly debut, 2000’s Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished and, like Spirit, is a direct collaboration between the Brooklyn-based Collective’s two founding members, the mysteriously named Avey Tare and Panda Bear. All of this information might sound more than a little alienating to the casual music fan, but don’t be put off — to paraphrase Captain Beefheart, Sung Tongs may be weird but it sure ain’t strange. Think of it as a Pet Sounds for the modern generation, only with the emphasis placed on the freedom of the pop song as opposed to the structures of the pop song. Animal Collective have previously only allowed the world glimpses into their cuddly universe, but on Sung Tongs they throw the doors wide open. (Fat Cat)