Animal Collective Stays Relevant with the Re-Release of “Campfire Songs”
While you may have first heard Animal Collective by way of a blog post, dancing to “My Girls” at a party, or on a television commercial (Crayola has always been awesome), you probably had not yet come across any song from Campfire Songs. Recorded in a single session on an outdoor porch, the five dreamy songs making up this 2003 release do not shine for their commercial quality, but for their acoustic freedom and ambient effect.
One might assume that this acoustic release would get more popularity than their other releases that combine electronic instruments with wild lyrics and hypnotic effects, such as 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavillion. But their mild guitars accompanied by Panda Bear’s honestly beautiful vocals went relatively unnoticed. Released originally in 2003 by Catsup Plate, Campfire Songs was reissued by Paw Tracks in January, aiming to keep the CD in print for as long as possible. Upon listening, it is clear this was the right decision.
“Queen in My Pictures” introduces the calming essence of the Maryland porch environment, with insect and water noises accompanying the light guitar strumming. The beat picks up towards the end and the lyrics become an almost tribal chant.
The transition into “Doggy” is seamless, and leads to a feeling different from that of “Queen in My Pictures.” “Doggy” is fast-paced and catchier, a song that you want to sing along to. About halfway through, Panda Bear’s vocals encompass you with their beautiful “ooohs” and “aahs.”
As you begin listening to “Two Corvettes,” you start to pick up on the campfire feel of the album. These guys become your friends, playing music for you outdoors while you just appreciate your natural surroundings. Even the lyrics speak of going for a ride in a Corvette while your hair blows in the breeze. But as the guitars become frantic and the rain falls more heavily, the atmosphere changes, leading into the next track.
“Moo Rah Rah Rain” begins with the chanting of the title, with the actual rain and thunder easily heard in the background. The lyrics themselves seem to float above the music, a wistful soundscape driven by the water and bird calls. This 11-minute song is perfect music to fall asleep to, relax to or hike to.
The album reaches its end with “De Soto De Son.” Interestingly, Panda Bear’s voice here at times reminds me of WHY?’s Yoni Wolf. This song doesn’t drag on as many 11-minute songs from contemporary bands seem to do. Though it is the last track on the album, I wish it were not. I just want there to be more.
Go pick up a copy of Campfire Songs, unless, of course, you already did seven years ago.
– Kelsey Perry