This week on Tracking––a weekly series in which we discuss our favorite songs of the year (you can check out the official list as the year progresses)––you can listen to additions from Animal Collective, Fiona Apple, Jai Paul, Twin Shadow and Grimes. (Click on the arrows to navigate through the songs.)
Animal Collective: “Honeycomb” / “Gotham” (1 of 5)
As mind bending as Animal Collective’s most recent work has been (the visual record ODDSAC and the performance piece Transverse Temporal Gyrus) it is always welcome to hear their experiments within a proper song structure. “Honeycomb” and “Gotham” are the first tracks to come out of the recording sessions for an album to be released later this year. They are both excellent and distinctly Animal Collective, meaning unlike any other music made by humans. “Honeycomb” opens with an unintelligible sample (what else) and some quirky synth work before the melody drops and Avey Tare begins to lead us down the rabbit hole. It is a dense track, with any number of sounds being produced at once, but it has strong harmonies and a clear focus. The members join voices near the end for a Beach Boys moment and, with that, AnCo are back in our lives.
“Gotham” is as close to a slow-burner as Animal Collective gets. It opens with hints of Pink Floyd, which is fitting considering both bands are pioneers of psychedelic music. However, as much acid as that band took, I don’t think they ever envisioned the types of soundscapes that Animal Collective are able to create. “Gotham” is anchored by a meandering pop melody but that is only the spatial center for a swirling cloud of echoing guitar, soaring vocal harmonies, and myriad electronic adornments. I recommend trying to mentally chase down every little synth stab, every guitar note that worms its way through the track and then leaves again unnoticed. It is a futile yet fascinating exercise; and it will leave you with an appreciation for just how impossibly creative these four men are. –– Drew Malmuth