It’s been a full half-decade since Animal Collective came to prominence, bridging the gap between Brian Wilson and avant-garde tribal chant with 2003’s Here Comes the Indian. It’s not just the band’s productivity that’s seems so remarkable; rather, fans should marvel at their habit of progressing, arguably improving with each successive album. Like People and Prospective Hummer before it, Water Curses looks backwards but moves the band forward with four songs culled mostly from the Strawberry Jam sessions. Like that album, the title track contains some of the band’s most overtly pop moments yet, with its compulsive ¾ drum machine, wall-of-sound jungle, and infectious melody. The remaining three tracks marry the swampy atmosphere of Feels with the utterly breathtaking production chaos of Strawberry Jam. “Cobwebs” is the clear highlight, with its lyrical mantra of “I’m not going underground” both blissful and oddly perverse. This EP should function in connecting the group’s previous two records to wherever the hell they’re going next; it continues to exhibit their commitment to bizarre musical brilliance. Simply put, it’s fantastic.
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