This was supposed to be a different album – a warmer, deeper album. As spontaneous as it feels, it was meticulously planned and impeccably executed. Though not technically acting under the Animal Collective name, Avey Tare, Panda Bear and newcomer Deakin (Josh Gibbs) performed on one of their most unique albums to date, Campfire Songs, with Geologist present and assisting in the recordings. While Geologist’s debut album, Danse Manatee, was one that fell a bit flat, Deakin’s debut here is nothing short of memorable.
In order to give the fully realistic feel of a campfire sing-along, Campfire Songs was recorded outside in Maryland, all in one take. With only five songs and hardly any structured direction, it truly does sound like an incredible jam session between some of your favorite musicians.
Album opener “Queen In My Pictures” sounds like a hippie love fest in all the right ways. Hearing the grass crunching in the background and the waves crashing in over the disembodied voices and haphazard strings truly adds a dimension to this track that just cannot be achieved in a studio.
“Doggy” is perfect for the modern-day folk lover, and continues showing a new depth while managing to be the shortest track on the album. Meanwhile, “Moo Rah Rah Rain” brings the animalistic nature of the Collective to the forefront and engages your senses in a fascinating journey. With ethereal sounds and a tempting Spanish guitar, this track proves that this is the album that shows their strengths as variedly talented musicians.
A beautiful trip reminiscent of The Beatles, “De Soto De Son” is folksy and psychedelic in all the right ways. With this album closer tracking in at over eleven minutes and most others hovering around the ten-minute mark, this five-song album does not tread lightly.
To say that this is an improvement on the unfortunate Danse Manatee and the decent Hollinndagain would be an understatement; this album takes what was excellent on Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished and perfects it. Though they were not performing under the group name, they certainly created a cohesive and flowing piece that perfectly encompassed the experience they were intending to convey. Moreover, they seemed to have finally found their niche that would then facilitate their growth into the seasoned musicians we now know as Animal Collective.