Animal Collective – Feels
After the Panda Bear/Avey Tare tribal campfire singalong Sung Tongs, Josh Dibb and Brian Weitz (better known by their respective aliases Deakin and Geologist) return for 2005’s Feels, and it definitely sounds like the work of a full band. The four musicians worked together on past records, but this is their most disciplined and most focused album yet. Of course, this being Animal Collective, discipline and focus only broaden their emotional and creative boundaries. Although the first half of the album, with the exception of perhaps “Flesh Canoe”, is more rock-oriented than their past work, this is the sort of messy, bombastic music that Mercury Rev made in their early career. “Grass” is three minutes of booming drums and cathartic screams, all of it, of course, driven home by a sweet-as-pie melody. Meanwhile, “The Purple Bottle” throws the ecstatic and embarrassing glee of falling in love into a shape-shifting song that incorporates multi-layered chants, crackling noise climaxes, and a vocal by an Avey Tare who can barely contain himself. The latter portion of the album mainly consists of more ambient pieces often accompanied by electronic drone and autoharp, the highlight being “Banshee Beat,” which builds to a couple climaxes throughout its eight-and-a-half minute sprawl. Feels is a focused and nuanced effort from a band that continues to surprise with both passion and creativity.