Animal Collective - Tangerine Reef
Tangerine Reef may very well be the most Animal Collectivey name ever to be imagined. This is not however the most Animal Collectivey album I've ever heard. Let's take a step back before we get into that. Tangerine Reef was created as a visual album for Coral Morphologic the Miami based artist duo who photograph live coral. It's the kind of project that seems tailor made for Animal Collective, kinda weird but somehow based in nature. The thing with this album is it feels wholly unconnected to reality. There is almost no song structure, no grounding force or anything to keep you engaged on a human level. This album leaves all that behind and goes full experimental with sound and tempo never giving you the inkling of a beat to latch onto. This music is off putting and disorienting in some of the worst ways. It sounds like indulgent self expression devoid of much meaning. Maybe you need the visuals for this record to connect, maybe you need your eyes filled with something while your ears are being beaten, but I can't imagine what that might look like. There are echoes of what Animal Collective used to be on tracks like "The Sponge where the vocal almost becomes the melody amongst this swirling mess.
The album is odd in that it's uncomfortable but it just sails by leaving little impact. If you weren't paying attention you could almost tune the whole thing out and forget it was there. Nor saying that it disappears in any sense of the word, it's just easy as hell to tune out. Avey Tare's distant vocal on "Palythoa" is almost unintelligible as He meanders through this track without any kind of point or direction. That may be the thing that is the most frustrating about this record, it has no direction. It starts no where and ends up no where and it is so incredibly frustrating. I also have this feeling like maybe I am not giving this album a real chance, like maybe I should listen harder or dig deeper. However even if Animal Collective are seeking to describe the flowing and transient nature of coral, the sea and our place within them, masking that idea in this much muck and nonsense benefits no one. You have to at least want to take that dive with them, to explore strange experimental sound, but this album does nothing to ingratiate you to that idea. Instead it leaves you hollow and confused, longing for fairer shores.
2.9 out of 10