Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam

Recommended Tracks: 4, 5, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9
RIYL: The Residents, Panda Bear, Caribou

My affair with Animal Collective began in 2004, when I heard Sung Tongs for the first time. It was just a summer thing at first, but our love grew stronger with the release of Feels in 2005. In 2006, though, the band deserted me! No new albums, a few tours here and there, but for the most part, nothing! Absence, for some reason, truly does make the heart grow fonder- Strawberry Jam is my most highly anticipated album… ever.

That being said, I couldn’t stand this album on the first listen-through. It was too schizophrenic, too far removed from their previous albums (which, really, I should have expected—their sound changes with each new album). I was disappointed and more than a little bit heartbroken, but I decided to give it another try that same night.

That’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made. After the second listen, I couldn’t stop. I listened to it again, and again, and again; I think I probably listened to the complete album seven times that night. Absolutely flawless musical moments are rather hard to find, but they abound on Strawberry Jam. The high points of the album, in my mind, are For Reverend Green and Fireworks. The raw emotion of the first song, matched with a simplistic, driving beat reminds me of another Animal Collective song: We Tigers (which, incidentally, might just be in my top five songs of all time). The song culminates with someone screaming “For Reverend Green! FOR REVEREND GREEN!” over and over, turning these words into pure noisy sonic perfection. The beat continues, shifting ever-so-slightly, and dives straight into Fireworks, a complete stunner of a song. In true Animal Collective fashion, the song has several distinct parts, each blending together to create a song that’s more than a song; it’s a story with a life of its own.

As a whole, this is a solid album— its genius is much more consistent than Feels, with just as much creativity and innovation as I’ve come to expect from them. Animal Collective and I, I’m glad to say, are still very much in love.

  • Kaitlin Butler
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam