Dave Portner’s (aka Avey Tare of Animal Collective), love of campy horror movies has influenced earlier projects, such as his 2010 solo LP Down There and Animal Collective’s short film/wanna-B movie Oddsac. But on Enter the Slasher House, the debut full-length from his new indie-rock supergroup, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, it assumes center stage. Listeners expecting more of the lithe, Ariel Pink-ish pop of the band’s lead single “Little Fang” will be disappointed, or at least confused, as the majority of the album operates in the compressed, abrasive sonic universe of AC’s most recent LP Centipede Hz. Certainly the songs unfold as quickly and as brazenly. The most successful examples of AC’s trademark maximalism on Slasher House are the big-beat ’90s psychedelia of “Strange Colores” and “The Outlaw,” a minor-key gallop driven by an ear-catching, modal melodic line and delay-heavy vocal interplay between Portner and keyboardist/ex-Dirty Projectors lieutenant Angel Deradoorian. The comparatively restrained “Roses on the Window” sounds either like a phased-out Tare update of a Nuggets curiosity or an early-’70s Kinks outtake, and is one of the album’s best compositions.
Slasher Flicks feels like a project built off of the promise of an initial jam — the feeling of playing in the right room with the right people with the right string of pedals hooked up. Although the live-band-at-work effect is achieved better here than on the dense and cramped mix of Centipede Hz, Enter the Slasher House still feels over-baked, as if Portner spent too much time in the mixing booth experimenting with effects racks. The arrangements, too, feel like spontaneous flights of fancy distilled into replicable marching orders; the resulting ornateness and technicality, especially in Jeremy Hyman’s drumming, feels a bit too self-conscious for comfort. The unfortunate byproduct of all this is the general asphyxiation of Portner’s songs.