Animal Collective | Water Curses EP
Most Likely To: save you money on drugs.
Animal Collective’s new Water Curses EP is precisely what you’d expect from the band that brought you Strawberry Jam and Sung Tongs: a pilgrimage to mind-bending, ambitious orbits. Regardless of how one feels about the sound purveyed by the preposterously prolific quartet, it would be myopic to not give them credit for so wholeheartedly pursuing a style so utterly nonpareil. As with their previous endeavors, Animal Collective sounds like no other band around on this EP.
Launching things is the eddying title track, a centrifugal whirl of early Elephant 6 experimentation, breakneck vocals reminiscent of The Russian Futurists, and dueling flute and synth yawps. “Water Curses” is a logical choice for the lead-off spot as it is the most approachable song on the release by far in terms of length, tempo, and catchiness. The other three tracks here come off as slow-motion space explorations by contrast, the antitheses of the aural carpet bombing on “Water Curses.”
“Street Flash” has moments where it feels as though Animal Collective is deliberately attempting to strain the listener’s patience with garbles of unintelligible vocals or protracted bellows; however, for the most part it is an oddly relaxing journey predicated on a simple guitar riff positively sopping with delay. Elsewhere, the aptly titled “Cobwebs” channels full-blown neo-psychedelia with a tad of video game bleepery. Given the meandering of “Street Flash,” it is a gratifying surprise when “Cobwebs” suddenly intensifies after the first minute or so, embarking on a process of layering that adds steam until the song’s conclusion.
The serene “Seal Eyeing” brings Water Curses to a handsome close. After the preceding three tracks, it is made remarkable not because of its ambitious leanings and thick sonic palette, but rather for its restraint and daintiness. It is a palate cleanser after a meal rife with rich flavors, the aperitif that makes things end on a sweet and fragrant note.
With their adventurous approach to recording, the EP format may very well be the most conducive to Animal Collective’s material. It is long enough that the band has space to stretch out and wander about but not so much that the sound loses its luster. Water Curses is an intriguing listen with a consummate mixture of material, the sound of one of Animal Collective’s long players condensed to its essence.