If you are the kind that just try to find deeper meaning, life solutions, a mirror where you can see your feelings reflected lying on the surface just be careful, cause this album may be an absolute incomprehensible and perhaps annoying experience, believe me, I have been there. But it is true one can sometimes loosen up, lay down, open ears and brain and then let this flowy music get inside your system and tickle your soul, just then to, and with great surprise, find yourself giggling, because this is what Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs does. But don’t get me wrong the music and the whole concept here is really far away from what you could call a posed style or an empty plastic package. This is very experimental, well-crafted music with a lot of soul, highly creative and to me extremely natural.
To explain the music contained in Sung Tongs (released on May 3, 2004 by Fat Cat Records) first I find necessary to decompress this eclectic mix. First of the things I find that pops out the easiest in it is its folky sound, which to be honest was for me its initial appeal. The music here, and the different worlds created, part from acoustic guitar, making a perfect “freak folk” album. It is true though that the melodies created and the song structures are very lineal, but it is just because all that comes from them will be just wacky and cheerful insanity. Sample electronic sounds that are, among others, trademarks of the sound of the band, help the music to create hints of colors and moods around the songs. And then we have the vocal melodies, which are the definite hook for this album and in general all Animal Collective music. They just know how to go wild, crazy yet somehow very sweet. Layers over layers of voices are constantly in motion to create the very dynamic, trippy and dreamy melodics that will carry the listener through this jolly journey. Yes, this is fun!
I think the whole album is very balanced in terms of song quality, there are not really bad songs, maybe the only complaint I have is “Visiting Friends” The song consists of a guitar chord played in a sort of wavy way over and over again with some background samples and a constant murmur. Interesting but depending on the situation sometimes 12 minutes of that is a bit too much. The strongest points? The madcap “Who Could Win a Rabbit”. This song pulls you up and down and up again only to make you run, as if you were chasing a rabbit in a psychedelic land. “Kids on Holiday” again uses a constant repetitive guitar chord, but here the electronic soundscapes are more interesting and, mostly, the vocal melody is very flowy, tender and catchy and it leads to parts where shouts make an interesting contra tempo. Again very dynamic. “Leaf House” goes in the same line in terms of style but here the drum beat is a bit more present which adds an special feel to the song. In general a very equanimous album, not in the sense that is repetitive, but more than it is clear that there is a concrete aesthetics and “concept” which in my opinion makes the difference between a good album and an excellent and perfectly achieved one.
To sum up and compress again. Sung Tongs has very contemplative music with a lot of energy and dynamism around. It has a careless feel to it which makes it, once you’ve gotten into it, really easy to listen to. Don’t worry, play it, laugh, jump when you want to jump because this is just for fun.