Animal Collective — four couch-surfing, scraggly dudes from the Northeast — write rounds disguised as songs, time-delayed melodies that swallow themselves whole before completion and search for a finite end that never arrives. Sometimes the effect is like Columbus addressing the Flat Earth Society, but on Feels, the band's new album, it's like waking up to zero gravity, the whole world weightless and untethered — and what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than chilling on the ceiling?
Feels is easily the most accessible Animal Collective record yet, and also one of the best 2005 releases, period. "Did You See the Words" and "The Purple Bottle" tug from the same bottle of delirium as the Arcade Fire — it's as if everyone's in a race to see who can finish the song first. "Purple Bottle" in particular really impresses, the drumming primal but dampened, the vocals yelping and pygmy-like and an incredible "chorus" of soft yawps and falsetto sighs. "Bees" takes off on Panda Bear's excellent Young Prayer record, all harpsichord and enchanting forests. Bjork fans in particular might be surprised by how much they dig this one.
But far and beyond all of these excellent moments is "Banshee Beat." It's an absolute epiphany: chanted vocals, the strongest melody on the record, a pensive guitar drone, four chords, bombastic drums, percussion that sounds like spoon-thwacking, a too-brief crescendo rain-delayed for six minutes that still satisfies, a song that begs for the loudest stereo system ever. If this doesn't send you for the "download all" button, then nothing will.