Few bands have the right to boast about their extensive intertwining working relationships, various pseudonyms and overall acclaim like Animal Collective. The Baltimore music group has left an infamous trail of successes behind them through their record label, Paw Tracks, the works of somewhat constant members Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist and their most confusing combinations of collaborations.
Touted by many as one of the most anticipated albums of the year, the experimental rock group's latest offering, Strawberry Jam, is an almost psychedelic tromp through ambient sounds that quickly transform themselves into frantic beats, to emotional laments and then back again. While offering a distinct flavour, each song still seems to work coherently with the next to make a well-fitting album. The collective works to juxtapose electronic sounds with instrumental music and voice into an exciting and workable mix.
Jam's first track, "Peacebone," opening with the exclamation, "Bone face," breaks into a hectic computer communication-esque noise. As the noise shifts and changes phase, it becomes the basis for a plucky tune featuring steel drums and twitchy melodies. "Winter Wonder Land" is an intriguing track, building from vocals and muted drums to a variable plethora of sound with the chorus shouting, "If you don't believe in fantasy then don't believe in fantasy/ Do you not believe in fantasy because it gets you down?" Probably one of the most moving on the album, "Cuckoo Cuckoo" paints an initially desolate picture, with muddy piano and voices that slowly mold into a full-on lament.
Strawberry Jam is a refreshing, variable offering, once again proving Animal Collective's staying power as experimental powerhouses.