Animal Collective – What Would I Want? Sky

Call it a cop-out to make the first Song Review be an absolute love letter to the members of Animal Collective, but enough cannot be said for “What Would I Want? Sky”. Put plainly: this is the best song they’ve ever released. 11 months ago, this belonged to “My Girls”, 2 years ago it belonged to “Fireworks”, and 4 years ago, it belonged to “Banshee Beat”. After continually outdoing themselves release after release, it has come to a head, and what a crossroads it is: after released what is often considered the best album of their career, and with expectations through the skyline, they choose to release a new EP only 10 months after Pavilion blew everyones’ minds. And what does it do? Well, it blows everyone’s minds.

Things start off in familiar territory with Graze playing a familiar hazy tail. Nothing special, but it bleeds so naturally into the topic of this review that it almost seems homely. You see, Animal Collective are at their best when they’re sounding familiar; nostalgic. “What Would I Want? Sky” starts with a similar haziness, but quickly cymbal clashes sound like cresting waves in the foggy ocean. Voices ring in and out, and for a second, you’re almost lost in it. However, through the fog echoes a familiar sound; The Dead. Yes, after a long-held hiatus upon the catalog of The Grateful Dead, patron saints of the Collective, the first use of a Dead song is by a group of Dead heads. However, “Sky” is more Cat Stevens than it is Jerry Garcia, with perfect-pitched pop coming from the speakers.

It seems Avey Tare and Panda Bear have come to a point in their respective careers where their aspirations are truly in align. After Feels, which was Bear’s show, Strawberry Jam sounded like a subtle one-upping by Tare, who in the same year was jousted by Mr. Lennox’s subterranean opus Person Pitch. Far from a feud, and more of a competition, the two have combined super powers and influences to bring us the best output of their career, and the Geologist is along for the ride. But this means he is by no means taking a backseat to the two  superpowers; he’s complacent in this outfit, with his sonic fuzz and nature sounds giving “Sky” a warm echo to boost it’s pop aesthetic.

What it all comes down to is that these three (Deakin is off looking for himself in Africa as it turns out, or at least is trying to) have found their place in the music world, and it’s at the very forefront of modern popular music. Whether it’s the African rhythms, the echoes of warm nostalgia, the vocal sobriety, or perhaps the fact that the songwriting has never been better, this anti-pop team of pop musicians are quickly becoming the kings or not just Freak Folk and Neo-psychedelia, but of Experimental music as a whole. With their new found confidence, they’ve taken their act to the world stage, and “Sky” is their call to the world, one that is warm, deliciously layered, and absolutely demanding of your attention.

Score: A+

by Trevor “best thing they’ve done since that jaw-harp thing” Johnson


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