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Animal Collective: Sung Tongs

Animal Collective: Sung Tongs

Label:Fat Cat
Release Date:2004
More info on local act

Animal Collective

Fat Cat

By Marc Masters | Posted 5/5/2004

Animal Collective's records often don't match up to its live performances, but not much does. This rotating Brooklyn, N.Y., freak-orchestra (known individually as Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin, and the Geologist) conducts its shows like huge séances, engulfing attendees in guitar sweeps, vocal chants, tribal beats, and random electronic noise.

Last year's Here Comes the Indian (the first Collective-related release to feature all four members) came closest to catching the live beast, with dense drones and thick soups of layered singing that, while not quite as 3-D as the band's shows, definitely filled the room. Sung Tongs is a much different creature: Vocal-centered and acoustic-guitar heavy, it's more a quirky avant-folk record than a psyched-out smorgasbord.

Despite a lack of variety--each tune here relies on excited guitar strum and twisted vocal melody--Tongs is supremely impressive in its depth and detail. Songs like the opening scale-climber "Leaf House," the doo-wop rain dance "We Tigers," and the sweaty workout "Winters Love" are products of careful construction, as the band pastes sheets of sound and rhythm to stunningly sturdy melodies, recalling everything from the stereo-swept swing of the Beatles to the basement invention of the Tall Dwarfs. By the time the creepy vocal phasing of the childlike "Whaddit I Done" kicks in, the album's sameness becomes its strength, creating one continuous, eternal song. In fact, while Animal Collective's shows are an endless sound environment, the subtle architecture of Sung Tongs might, after the hundreds of listenings it deserves, prove to be just as deep.

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