Despite being nominated for the Brit Award's International Breakthrough Act award last year, Baltimore-born Animal Collective have actually been in the business for ten bloody years! The curiously named foursome first bonded over a shared love of Pavement and horror movies at the tender age of fifteen. Several years and a lot of hallucinogenics later, they have eight studio albums under their belt and are constantly compared to seminal bands such as Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead. How about that!
Although the most normal-looking band ever, give or take the odd headlight worn on stage, they create some very strange, very lovely songs. After a fair amount of deliberation, here are my absolute favourites in descending order....
5. Leaf House
What a charming little video, set in what looks like the world's most snazzily-decorated doll's house full of cat memorabilia. I love me a bit of stop-motion, and it must be said, fire never looked so sweet and unassuming as it does when it's made out of paper. Am I the only one who thinks the bit with the doll and the dog looks a bit dodgy, though...? The highlight of this song, in my humble opinion, is right at the very end: Kitties! Meowww.
When there's a song that I can't get out my mind, whether I'm wandering the streets, having a shower or trying to sleep, I like to go on the Song Meanings website - not just to find out what the hell they're singing, you understand, but to see what the always-amusing forum posters have to say. Amongst all the 'I think this is about falling in love with your best girl friend' posts, I came across this genius:
'Nothing beats waking up, whacking this baby on at full volume and squawking the lyrics downstairs whilst making cheese on toast.'
That pretty much sums it up, really - a song for all occasions!
Ahhhhhhhhh this song! My love for this knows no limits (well, except in a top five context), and I can't imagine I'll ever grow bored of it. I can't help but get a silly little smile on my face when I hear the line 'I was dreaming of just you, now my cereal, it is warm!' - and when you learn that the album it's from, 'Strawberry Jam', was written as Avey Tare fell in love with his future-wife, it makes it all the more sweet.
2. Brother Sport
The video is pretty wonderful, what with the dancing children, the dog vision and the rather psychedelic interlude... but the song is even better. From their critically-acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavillion album, this rather exhilarating little number urges Panda Bear's brother to 'open up his throat' about his grief for their late father. The thing I love most about this is how it sounds like several songs all seamlessly mashed together, culminating in a hypnotic chant; what a treat!
1. The Purple Bottle
I'd better be honest with you straight away - this one doesn't come with an amazing little video. Too many ill-advised film students have taken it upon themselves to make interpretive videos for this, but it is my favourite A.C. song, so I thought I'd just keep it nice 'n' simple. Believe it or not, the modest group consider themselves 'definitely not good musicians' but I beg to differ... just listen! Plus the lyrics in this song are absolute perfection. All in all, it is sheer audio-loveliness, miraculously condensed into a mere 6:51. I would gladly sacrifice my left leg, if only I could see this performed live.
Honorable mentions: Who Could Win A Rabbit, In The Flowers, Bluish, Summertime Clothes.