I don’t know how often a guy can get away with throwing around a word like “genius” or “groundbreaking,” so let me just say this before I put my foot in my mouth and get sided with The Boy Who Cried Wolf: After four hits off a bat filled with fairly docile Mexican brown, Strawberry Jam is a groundbreaking work of genius that should be cited as the Smile for the Ritalin generation.
Regardless of what actually fuels Animal Collective (pharmaceuticals, mental illness, etc.), there is a real passion to what they’re doing and keep up, goddamnit, because they’ve already moved on to a new instrument, rhythm, or dynamic by the time you just figured out the one before it.
And when Animal Collective can’t think of words, they just repeat the same ones over and over or make noises that hark back to Brian Wilson circa ’65.
It’s lazy to regard Strawberry Jam as an “acid rock” record because anyone’s who’s ever tampered with psychedelics will tell you that there’s so much going on at once throughout this album that it wouldn’t be conducive to LSD. No, this is an album that works double-time to reach your synapse, because it has to get through all of the years of dependency and increased tolerance.
Besides, there are moments of real terror and tension around every corner of Strawberry Jam. Dynamics change, suddenly, jumping from a cute falsetto into a bloodcurdling scream while distorted guitars and vintage synthesizers pop in and out of the mix with precise intentions. I have three words of warning to anyone considering dropping some paper with Strawberry Jam as the soundtrack in the background: Art Linkletter’s daughter.
This is the perfect album after indulging in your favorite prescribed cocktail and it could be the album where you can actually hear the joy inside of those notes and forego the need to refill those aforementioned scripts.
Strawberry Jam just may be the holistic ingredient that you need.
Animal Collective – “Peacebone”
Animal Collective – “Fireworks”