Vaguely folky, kinda psychedelic, slightly jammy, and decidedly challenging, Animal Collective makes records that are impenetrable on first listen. Though its profile raised with last year's Sung Tongs, the band's higher visibility hasn't blunted its musical meanderings. But while Feels succeeds at being sonically enigmatic, patient ears will discover that the group's mix of chants, screams, animal noises, and lo-fi soundscapes is rarely bratty or self-adoring. But that doesn't negate the fact that not all experiments work. While an atmospheric track like "Loch Raven" locks into a slumberous groove, the longer tribal numbers such as "The Purple Bottle" prattle on for seven minutes without ever sparking much interest for anybody outside of Animal Collective's adoring cult. Still, at only nine tracks, Feels' warm home-recording vibe outweighs its what-the-hell-is-this? indulgences. If you detest the idea of arty bohemians commandeering indie rock, Feels will at least make you question your prejudices.
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