Sung Tongs review by Animal Collective

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  • Released: Jun 1, 2004
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 7.7 (25 votes)
Animal Collective: Sung Tongs

Sound — 10
Many musicians measure talent through melodic complexity. If that is the way you see music, then you'll be uninterested. At the same time, you'll fail to realize the beautiful simplicity bubbling over the surface of this entire album. On one hand, it is a folk record, but there is so much more to it. There is an ethereal and natural quality in the music, due in part to the spacious compositions and the integration of unusual percussive elements. Often, the rhythms are referential to the music of Africa. The songs are also usually accompanied by sampling naturalistic sounds. It's a campfire album. It's surrealistic and impressionistic. This makes for an experience as you listen. The stream-of-consciousness structures of the song lead each one to sound different from each other, despite the fairly limited instrumentation, and, if you open your mind to it, you'll enjoy the unhinged and primal innocence sugar coating each note on the album. For this album, less is more. Much, much more.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics follow the suit of the compositions, being barely sensical odes to innocence. Both Panda Bear and Avey Tare (the vocalists) sound like feral child-men weened on the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel. With all it's meandering structures, it would be easy to forget how detailed these songs are. Some songs have fairly sparse vocals and some songs may just be crafted nonsense, but, even in nonsense, the band is able to tap into a childlike quality, still painting a strange and wonderful environment that begs to be imagined by the listener. Although, the band could stick to more classic pop-like vocals (which they do more often in newer releases), they weave through a myriad of different styles, usually psychedelic, sometimes harsh and crazed. This may detract some listeners, but the rest will be absorbed into the strange delivery and probably revel in the out of the ordinary vocals.

Overall Impression — 10
In comparison to other "indie" artists this decade, there is no comparison to Animal Collective. This is the first of their continuing string of classic albums. The only problem with the band is that they are the absolute combination of avant-garde and pop elements which leads them to be either hated or loved. There is no in-between for them, so I can't guarantee you'll like this album, but if you do happen to like, it will almost certainly become a favorite. Personally, I can't find a bad thing about the album other than the accessibility factor. If you want to start with the band though, this is the place to start. Then go for Feels, and after that find their two newest albums Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion. You'll see an evolution in sound that most bands never achieve in a career, let alone a few albums, and all of them are excellent. If I were to pick a few songs to serve as a taste test for the album, I'd choose the tracks "Leaf House," "Who Could Win a Rabbit?," and "Kids On Holiday." "Leaf House" is one of the most polyphonic and harmonic songs on the album, featuring both singers' voices flowing over one another in such a fantastic fashion. Meanwhile, "Who Could Win a Rabbit?" is a strange, nonsensical pop song that joyously calls for singing along though it's hard to tell if the words have any true meaning. The melodies on this song are soaring and the harmonies interweave in what could be the catchiest song that never made it to the radio. Contrasting, "Kids On Holiday" is just a beautiful song with outstanding stream-of-conscious lyrics. Augmented by some sort of static and actually utilizing what stereo can do for dynamics, the song is a mellifluous trip. It's easy to get lost in the album. I certainly hope I never loose my copy because not many stores in my area carry it, but if it did go missing, I'd surely get it again. I hope you enjoy the album as much as I have the past few years.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    a 10? this site rates music poorly, now im not sayinmg this album is bad. but from a perspective this not music this "band" never uses a time signature and it bothers the crap out of me.