In a year that has seen Animal Collective's 8th studio album Merriweather Post Pavilion topping many best album lists, it's difficult not to see the trio's new EP Fall Be Kind as some kind of glorified victory lap.
In honesty though the strength of the 5 songs here is that the band has continued to move forward without being dazzled by the headlights of success. The EP is not a million miles away from the sound of the preceding album with samples intertwining to create mysterious soundscapes. However there's also a consistent dream like quality to the material.
'Graze' has been road tested throughout the summer and stands up well in its studio recording. The song falls into 2 distinct parts; the initial ambient section has sounds swirling around the lyrics that allude to waking from a dream, "Ease open my eyes and let light in", before a mantra chant of "Let me begin" gives way to a pan pipe and flute led surreal pop sketch. The latter part of 'Graze' sounds like Vampire Weekend have snuck into the back and hijacked proceedings, but oddly despite the dramatic change in direction in the song it remains a great opening salvo with some of the best vocal harmonies heard all year.
The ambient mood returns for 'What Would I Want? Sky' which at first sounds like it wouldn't be out of place on an Aphex Twin album before vocal samples and drums build into a tapestry of sound. This then gives way to a literally uplifting celebration of life, "Do I float up, up, up?" is just one question posed by the song that also features the first officially licensed sample of a Grateful Dead track.
Also worth mentioning is 'I Think I Can' which contains strange animal noises, electronic samples and almost tribal drumming. "What's nice about staying on the same pace?" the song asks, maybe that's the essence of this EP, a desire to continue exploring the endless combinations of noise that Animal Collective can create.
For some listeners then Fall Be Kind may be a somewhat daunting experience with this sonic bombardment of the senses, but it's also incredibly rewarding experience with new layers revealing themselves on each subsequent listen.