After the fright-fest debacle that was the Blair Witch Project, it’s just about time that someone made the woods fun and safe for the kids again. While there is something certainly insidious about their music, Animal Collective is our best hope to bring back the pastoral goodness of the great outdoors. Their acclaimed full-length Sung Tongs, released earlier this year, was a Technicolor folk and vocal miasma recalling the most stirring elements of artists like Brian Wilson and the Incredible String Band that served as a culmination of an impressive four year stint of creativity and experimentation. Leaving two of their bandmates at home, original members Avey Tare and Panda Bear crafted an explosive camp side collection of psychedelic gems on par with the vaunted classic “Kumbaya”.
The Who Could Win a Rabbit EP is comprised of the winning Sung Tongs album track of the same name, an unreleased B-side “Baby Day” and an MPEG file containing their first video, also for the title track. The chosen single “Who Could Win A Rabbit” encapsulates everything that is wonderful about this incarnation of the Animal Collective. The track opens with a garbled tape loop of two men speaking before quickly giving way to the chiming percussion and syncopated acoustic guitars of Avey Tare and Panda Bear. Soon after both members burst in, singing in unison about the joy and possibility of winning a rabbit over a mutating wall of percussion, guitars and tape loops. Without question this is the most rambunctious track in the Animal Collective’s catalogue and one of the finer summer singles for 2004.
The B-side track “Baby Day” combines some of the drone elements found on the last Animal Collective album Here Comes the Indian with the more harmonic elements of Sung Tongs. The track walks a fine line deftly incorporating the Kraut-rock of Neu with the sunny surf vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys all the while filtering it all through an ethereal cheesecloth that recalls the mysticism of the Cocteau Twins. “Baby Day” issues a joyous proclamation about a new pregnancy capturing a spirit that wouldn’t have been out of place on Sung Tongs.
The Who Could Win A Rabbit EP is clearly a product of quality rather than quantity. While the disc only sports two new items, “Baby Day” and the video for “Who Could Win a Rabbit”, both pieces will be essential to devoted followers of the Animal Collective. This release carries on the growing legacy of an important new American band who have made it safe for us all to return to the woods.