March 13, 2023

Animal Collective - "Untitled #1"

Animal Collective are set to reissue their debut record, 2000's Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished along with an EP of unreleased tracks including "Untitled #1."

I often have to remind myself that Animal Collective weren't always the indie juggernauts many of us know today. Even as they reached their peak popularity with 2009's opus Merriweather Post Pavilion, they were still deemed experimental pop, with their glitching samples making their sound more like you'd expect to soundtrack video games than those that would become almost pop hits or words that Beyoncé would go on to interpolate on her smash Lemonade. So, while those songs still sounded as if they were beamed in from another planet, the even earlier work from Animal Collective is primal and following their discography from debut to breakout success is quite the journey. This year, the band will reissue their debut as well as other material from that era including a cover of Fleetwood Mac's timeless "Dreams." Today, the band have shared the first taste of those outtakes with a track called "Untitled #1" alongside a remastered version of the delicious "Chocolate Girl." As I said before, a lot of the early material from Avey Tare and Panda Bear was free-floating experimental music that featured skittering drums and more "traditional" instrumentation. However, "Untitled #1" reveals a new side that helps connect the dots to their later work. The track easily could've come from the sessions that spawned Strawberry Jam or the Water Curses EP. It's a buzzing track full of electronic wonder that demonstrates the ideas that had been floating through the band nearly a decade prior to their reign as kings of indie as the aughts turned into the teens. An acoustic guitar riff does swirl throughout (almost reminiscent of "Who Could Win a Rabbit" or Panda's "Bros"), but it gets whisked into a flurry of digital haze giving it a psychedelic spin as Avey's vocals warp into a blissed-out howl. The focus on this one is definitely leaning towards what would emerge from their work several years later. While it's remained under lock and key for nearly two decades, what's most striking about it is just how forward-thinking the duo behind it were even if they wouldn't show those tendencies to the rest of us for years to come. It's a revelation in the depth and songwriting of one of the most prolific bands of their time and exposes just how much time has been spent flexing the musicals muscles of what was to come, adding more creative spark to their already brilliant minds.

The reissue of Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished is out May 12.

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