Animal Collective - Tangerine Reef
May 8, 2020
I decided to give Animal Collective's Tangerine Reef another go last night. It's not bad as I remembered, it's pretty bad though. One problem for me is is rarely are the sounds going into it all that interesting, in a lot of tracks they're pretty psychedelic in the way they're assembled, but very plain texturally, especially on the opener "hair cutter" and the following song "buffalo tomato" which has sorta cool rhythms and melodies going but the sound is just so, bleh. But then "inspector gadget" while not really texturally rich, the timbres were a bit more interesting and the composition pretty explosive, in comparison to the nearly comatose beginning tracks. Ah but then next track "buxom" is probably the most boring of all, starts with a plain but sorta nice ambient drone cool cool, then some neat blips. Nice start, where will it go from here? ... oh, nowhere? okay. There's some vocals that come in but literally adds almost nothing to it, even though the track desperately needed more added to it, the vocal might as well have not been there. Then "coral understanding" is flat out ugly, singing over cacophonous sounds is nothing new for them and has been done well, but the aimless almost random sounds here do not compliment avey's singing, which also just sounds lazily improvised and is barely a tune, his voice just being another bad sound in the track, instead of an anchor bring it all together. And then comes "airpipe (to an new transition)" which is a relatively cool sound piece here, a bit too long maybe but at least the sounds going into it are somewhat interesting and the progression is a bit exciting and lively, again just relative to the rest of the album, overall for AnCo it's nothing special. This leads into "jake and me" ... I dunno it wasn't bad but I don't really remember it, was a very forgettable moment, all the tracks before it were too but like there's not even much to make note of about this one that I can recall. Next is "coral by numbers" this is all from memory of listening to this album last night, so I'm not entirely sure which track this was, but I think it was this one that had somewhat interesting lyrics going into it, but the vocals again feel like no effort was put into them and falls flat. So like there's this underwater theme to the whole thing sonically, it is supposed to attached to a film that shows some sort of problems with the worlds coral reefs, a good cause for sure I do hope it helped raise some awareness. But the music on here as a result has an underwater feel to it, which is fine, makes for some interesting instrumental moments like 5% of the time. But almost always has a negative effect on the vocals, the muffling quality of the vocal effects on most tracks only worsens the lazy delivery and almost bad improvisational feel of the vocal melodies and even lyrics, there are moments here and there where there isn't effects like that on the vocals, but that only helps a little, a majority of the time the vocals are lazy and uninteresting, which is added onto by the bad effects. Which brings me to "hip sponge" these lyrics seem like the first thing that came to his mind, with no real prompt whatsoever. The entire 4 minutes is just "my time is now, now is the time, is not the only time, I got my eye on the prize" repeated over and over, in a completely ridiculous tone of voice that, again is made even worse by weird warbly underwater-ish effects. There's also this incessant bongo in it? I think it was on this track, not sure but it was really annoying, especially with the rest of the track already being annoying already. I gotta say most of what little percussion is on this album is not very good, the absence of Panda Bear on this release is heavily felt, on the percussion side and the vocals as well, if he were involved maybe this would have turned out better. Anyways, next was "lundstren coral" ... absolutely nothing comes to mind to be honest, same with "palythoa"... And then the final track "best of times (worst of all)" is not the worst of all but it is also not the best of times either.... it has most pf the flaws of the entire album packed into it, aside from cacophony. It's very texturally bland aside from some kind of cool percussion at certain points that hardly make up for it, then the lyrics are lame and repetitive to a brain rotting degree, the vocals are lazy and unexciting, also ruined further by effects, the progression of the track was totally boring, it's sort of a decent closer structurally at least... so yea, this overall is an occasionally terrible mostly just super boring and flavorless record, maybe the visuals along with it enhance it a bit, I'm not down to listen yet again just to see if that's the case. Animal Collective is my second favorite artist ever, I don't like that I have to say a release of theirs is bad, but I gotta be honest, this blows. But at least everything else from them is still ranges from good to incredible, there's no shortage of great music to be had with this group, and given solo work put out since Tangerine Reef, they still can put together great stuff, so the future of the band in my opinion is still bright.
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