A day at camp with the acid-headed Animal Collective

As a semi-erect adult I seem to dwell on the past too often. I miss my younger days of inner monologue, where communication was superfluous and a luxury at best. I miss the days when my senses ruled my consciousness with an iron fist, but those days have come and gone.

The adult world is all about understanding. It’s about arguing, proving and outlining every nook and cranny of one’s self into a museum display for others to acknowledge and value. Since the end of my youth, every instinctive force of my soul has been coerced into expressing itself through ultimately limited modes of expression, whether reason, metaphor or numerical equations. It is only through music that I have come to rediscover the unutterable joys once defined by the reaction to the last bell every afternoon of elementary school or the smell of my mother’s hair as it swept across my face before my sad departure from the nest.

On their latest release Feels, Animal Collective have granted me an echo of those memories. Picking up where their last full-length album Sung Tongs left off, the band members seem to extend their holiday retreat away from modernity and its conventional means of discourse through nine songs connected harmoniously through the chronological withering of a summer’s day.

As the morning dew begins to affect the splintered wood of the camp’s log cabins, the first track, “Did You See the Words,” breaks the natural silence with a fresh breath of laughter. Behind the poorly shut mouth of care-free children the giggles evolve, first as a whisper, then into a communally timed melody of chants in lieu of an orchestrated roll call. By the end of the first track, the band is unified, fastened and eager to take on the wonders of the day. The energy sparked at dawn begins to take shape in the form of light ambience and progressive pop as the kids are accompanied by the counselors’ warmly narrative voice, utilized for emotive leadership.

Running out of the serene harmonies of the afternoon, the album begins to carelessly slip toward darkly impenetrable shades of green hovering at the ankles of the campsite’s inert timber. From the fifth track to the penultimate, Animal Collective’s day grows into a lost solemnity of crawling sounds and eloquently pronounced lyrics. In recognition of their shared fate they grow conscious of their situation and decide to participate in the experience rather than remain petrified in the custody of their isolated selves.

Night falls, and the group gathers around to sleep on the backs of one another, humbly prepared for the unimaginable. For their mental sake, the counselors remain awake as the source of never-ending lullabies to nourish their little souls with a primordial echo of yesterday. At the album’s concluding track, “Turn Into Something,” Animal Collective decide to create rather than end. Survival after all is determined from a retrospective experience applied to the present; therefore having gone through the tumultuous peaks and valleys of the day, the group fuses its emotions into melodies that aren’t just heard, but felt.