Live at the Malta Festival 2006
1) When I first heard “Peacebone” and the Strawberry Jam album, I hated it. HATED IT. It turned me off so intensely that I pretty much gave up on the band until Merriweather Post Pavilion came around and won me over. After I had spent a fair amount of time with that record, I went back over Strawberry Jam and fell for it. I’m not sure what it was that bothered me about the album when it came out, though I don’t think it was the sort of thing I wanted at the time. My memory is hazy, but I think I thought it was a crass and unsuccessful attempt to be commercial like the Flaming Lips. I don’t hear that now. I hear confidence in Avey Tare’s voice, a simple folk structure applied to oddball synthpop, and incredible keyboard tones that are like the musical equivalent of incredibly saturated colors.
2) In fairness to myself, the song is called “Peacebone.” Out of all the amazing lyrics it, they chose to title this thing “Peacebone.” It’s one of the worst titles for a great song ever.
3) After years of cherry-picking songs from their records but generally feeling ambivalent about their music, I bonded with the Animal Collective catalog last summer while my father was dying. It was the right music for the moment. Sometimes I identified with the lyrics and themes in a literal way, other times it was a more abstracted feeling. “Peacebone” became something I knew could make me happy, so I listened to it every day when I needed it most. (It’s the most-played song on my laptop’s iTunes library, to give you an idea.) I hadn’t been listening to Animal Collective much in the past few months, but last week I was down and remembered that I had not heard “Peacebone” in a while, so I put it on to see if it still worked. It did. We can sometimes build a function into music, and make it a trigger for memories, emotions, etc. It’s a good thing, if you do it right. It’s pretty easy to do this in a self-destructive way, obviously.
4) “Only the taste of your cooking can make me bow on the ground” is one of the sweetest lyrics I have ever heard. I think it resonates with me because it suggests so much gratitude and admiration, but also a specific kind of intimacy and creativity rarely remarked upon in pop music.
5) There are a lot of other brilliant lines in this: “A blowout does not mean I will have a good night” and “you find out you can’t ask a baby to cry” because despite what I wrote above, you can’t always command your emotions. “The other side of take-out is mildew on rice” because it’s such a vivid and surprising image. “You think I’ll carve a path through New York and be an artist, but are you anything?”, because it calls into question the ambitions and expectations that get projected upon us by others, and how easy it can be to confuse them with your actual motivations. “An obsession with the past is like a dead fly,” because it doesn’t make sense, but then again it totally does. It’s just like a dead fly.
(Originally posted 4/14/2010)