Here Comes The Indian
Animal Collective – 2003
GENRE: Experimental Rock
HIGHLIGHTS: “Slippi”, “Infant Dressing Table”
The first album officially released under the Animal Collective name is another avant-garde noise affair, with feedback loops and electronic distortion featuring prominently. Only this time the band adds electric guitar to their bag of tricks and, surprise, surprise, it adds a livelier and more approachable sound.
I wouldn’t say this album is fun, but it sorta feels like fun. Kinda like chess or Sam Peckinpah movies. The guitar adds a much-needed splash of brightness and a hint of melody to the droning minimalist tuneage.
Here Comes the Indian is a difficult album. The Collective is unusually restless and threatening here, pushing their noisy envelope. They continually employ the anything-can-be-a-beat theory (electronic gargle, random slow claps, anything) and even trade throaty screams in “Hey Light.”
Sometimes the album sounds like a modernized This Heat, toeing the line between primitive music and vernacular sound, and other times it’s like a bastardized Kid A, electronic soundscapes in full bloom. But this is still a far more enjoyable listen than Danse Manatee or Campfire Songs. Animal Collective is inventive and adventurous on this album—sometimes the adventures don’t amount to shit (the electronic wandering of the 12-minute “Two Sails on a Sound” and the looped wailing of “Panic”) but other times the adventures lead to unique and worthwhile directions.
“Infant Dressing Table” is haunting in its ambience. It starts off from nothing, a primordial ooze of inaudible crackling and faint traces of melody, and builds into something powerful. Likewise, the closing “Too Soon”—despite its discordant vocodized vocals—is another big ambient mood-setter, with snatches of melody to boot.
But the most enjoyable and fun track is the skewered psychedelic pop of “Slippi.” The vocals and guitar are distorted and there is a noticeable dissonance throughout, but the skeleton of the sunny melody is still there. This is also Avey Tare for the first time showing off the kind of breathless and carefree vocal performance that he can excel at.
Here Comes the Indian is an interesting album, to say the least. Experimentalists will love it. As if “normal” Animal Collective isn’t experimental enough. There are very good moments here and there are still some throwaways, but it’s an album that shows assured progression. It’s also an album that is connected to the most disgustingly pretentious Pitchfork Media album review of all time. I encourage you to read it and try not to vomit. But I won’t let that ruin my enjoyment of the album, and yes, Here Comes the Indian is at times enjoyable.
It’s an early noisy experimental album by a beloved band—if you love it, you love it; sort of like Cryptograms by Deerhunter or Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising. Me? I appreciate it but can’t say that I very much adore it, though “Slippi” is pretty heartwarming.