Fall Be Kind
[rating: 3.5 stars]
The big news surrounding this five-song EP – released almost a year after the terrific Merriweather Post Pavilion album — is that it includes the world’s first-ever Grateful Dead sample. It’s part of the nearly seven-minute “What Would I Want? Sky,” a typically mind-melting freak-out that’s also Fall Be Kind’s most dazzling track. Since 2007’s Strawberry Jam, Animal Collective have nudged their experimental noise-making tendencies toward more listener-friendly areas. Merriweather includes a tuneful mix of Beach Boys-style harmonies and modern-day psych, but there are still plenty of minimalist indulgences and drawn-out tribal jams driving it. Fall Be Kind continues down this path, packing songs with skittering beats, digital debris, and dream-pop noises that sound like they’re from another galaxy. And like all of the Brooklyn band’s records, this EP is both a frustrating mess and peacefully elegant — sometimes within the same song. The opening “Graze” starts as a moody ramble to nowhere but turns into a clanging singalong for its second half. “What Would I Want? Sky” works with dichotomy too: After a spacey prelude, the Dead’s Phil Lesh (lifted from “Unbroken Chain”) links with Panda Bear’s airy vocal loops for one of Animal Collective’s best cuts. It’s a glorious moment from a career filled with all kinds of beautiful chaos.