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Sung Tongs by Animal Collective

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Reviewed on 15th May 2004.


Sung Tongs

By Animal Collective

Having witnessed their insane live show, it's a good feeling to know that Animal Collective don't disappoint on CD. Replacing the delayed electric guitars are softly strummed acoustic ones, and the mad cut and paste vocals and the tribal beats are still present, which is a relief, as they were what held together their show when they supported Múm a few weeks back.

First track 'Leaf House' is a fair representation of the rest of the record. Its strummy guitars, unusual beats and crazy vocals are all what this album is about, making pop songs from unusual instruments, but not forgetting about melody and tunes. 'Who Could Win A Rabbit' is another beauty, with its golden harmonies and its off-kilter soundscapes all combining to create some pure joyful music, bouncing along on its vocal melody. This is killer stuff - really interesting ideas and unusual combinations of musical styles and instruments firing off each other in pursuit of the ultimate tong.

'Kids On Holiday' is my favourite, probably because it was the first song they played live when I saw them, so it holds some special significance in that respect. Fans of Manitoba, Simian or indeed Múm will love this, and as a fan of all three, I can tell you it's really something special. It's pop, but skewed into a thousand different places. Harmonies which are as beautifully sweet as say, the Beach Boys, float along on the album, lifting it up and then managing to bring it back down when the mood changes. The downbeat 'The Softest Voice' is probably the most magical little track you'll hear in a long time, with it's haunting guitar lines and sickly sweet vocals, the Animal Collective aren't here to mess about.

Sometimes however, the album could've done with more editing, which is none more apparent on 'Visiting Friends', a 12-minute opus which contains all of two chords being played non stop. Some of the other songs tend to drag a bit too, but overall, the record benefits from its own weaknesses. Being over-long isn't a problem when the songs sound like they do, and there's quite a few mini skits on the record also, which redress the balance. The vocal harmonies on 'College' are pure 'Pet Sounds'- era Beach Boys. So much so in fact, that I was convinced they'd sampled them. Turns out that it's pure Animal Collective. Brilliant.

When I saw them live, the audience was split in two about what to make of them - some people hated them, others (including me) thought they were brilliant. To all those who doubt them, listen to this CD, because it's just really really good. Listen to 'We Tigers' to get a glimpse of something so completely weird, but so completely great. Now that's what I call music.



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