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Animal Collective

Feels
Fat Cat

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Due largely to their terrain and elevation, the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco continue to be home to cave-dwelling Berber women who spin carpets and paint amphora pottery according to traditions dating back to Roman times. Often these women, who speak in one of several unwritten and therefore splintered languages, exclaim innocently after a child is born, "Your weaving has been granted holiness and happiness!" No doubt this is all, unfortunately, vanishing; yet it's this fading purity that connects these women and their crafts with the Animal Collective. Because, for the past five or six years now, at least on record, the AC, either as a duo, trio or the complete quartet, has been marrying its own evaporating innocence to the more natural world of forest and critter. One of its members even goes by the name Panda Bear. They've spent time praising manatees, bees and ravens, donned animal heads for stage and, though they've grown up, gotten married and, in one member's case, moved to Portugal, they've continued to breathe new life into the dog-eared entity that is American pop. Feels, featuring the full quartet, takes the open space of earlier effort Danse Manatee and the harmonies of its Campfire Songs and emerges brimming with delicate orchestration and pent-up joy. "Banshee Beat," for example, slowly builds upon Avery Tare's whispered lead and the band's Mills Brothers-inspired trumpet vocals, while "Daffy Duck" suspends warped guitar and piano trills under stretched vocal incantations. There's a sense of anticipation threading through the album which bounces from blasts of harmony to lingering pulses of mere suggestion. This is perhaps one of the more beautiful and elusive records to appear in some time, weaving new cloth with old fabric, not unlike the women of the High Atlas.

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