Hair Cutter by Animal Collective - 2018 Playlist

Hair Cutter - Animal Collective

★★☆☆

Anyone in here an ODDSAC fan? Back in 2010 I paid 20 USD to have a copy of the Animal Collective visual album on DVD, and subsequently paid another 50 USD in customs and FedEx fees. Was it worth it? Yes, obviously. It came with a poster! As a mid-2000s nineteen-year-old it was also just about as monumental as seeing the release of 2001: A Space 2001 back in ’68. Dare I say, for millennial indie-heads of the early oughts, it might’ve the single most important visual piece of our young lives. To say my best friend and I watched it a lot is an understatement.

So when Tangerine Reef dropped I was, needless to say, hyped. A few weeks prior, AnCo had released the single Hair Cutter (which is supposedly a tune about developing a directionless crush on your hairdresser). I immediately threw it onto my rotation on Spotify and headed on an Algonquin trip with a few friends for the weekend. 

But when it came time on the road trip to contribute my music to the car, I anticipated this song and made sure to skip it. Why? Animal Collective at their best make catchy weirdo pop; at their normal make near-senseless, droning soundscapes; and at their worst make ears bleed (Thanks Avey). But don’t get me wrong, all of the above are literally music to my ears, just maybe not to the general public. 

The thing everyone* needs to know about Animal Collective is that they are not a band who are fundamentally listenable. As an AnCo fan, you are generally subject to years of neglect, only to be rewarded with albums like 2012’s Centipede Hz *eye-roll*. But every now and again, you get a Sung Tongs, a Fall Be Kind, or a Strawberry Jam. Heck, even 2017’s Meeting of the Waters was fairly palatable. And I’ll be (not) the first to point out that core member Panda Bear is a crucial element to the listenability of popular AnCo records. And who is Tangerine Reef missing? You guessed it. I can’t speak exactly to what Panda is doing instead, probably out touring a great album that he refuses to release on any streaming services…ahem.

But I digress, in truth I believe that Tangerine Reef *is* good. And to give Avey (and Deakin and Geo) some credit, it seems with Tangerine Reef he came back down to earth from his Slasher Flicks days (so hard that it appears he crash-landed in the ocean). 

Jokes aside, it is important to note in the case of this very complicated band, that one will surely be led astray by the having-of-expectations from the four-or-three-or-sometimes-two-piece. Nonetheless, this song Hair Cutter, is one of the only truly palatable songs on the album, which is why I chose it for the playlist. 

However you spin it, Tangerine Reef’s audio functions primarily as the soundtrack for the video collaboration between Animal Collective and Coral Morphologic (the groups previously met at an ODDSAC screening). Watch the film if you have an hour. It’s visually stunning, and nothing like anything AnCo have participated in before. At some points it’s disturbingly grotesque, and at others its some form of uncanny-valley-esque sea creature choreography. There are several points in the film that drew marked parallels to the human choreography performed by the Brooklyn dance crew, FLEX in Summertime Clothes, and even hints of the animation in My Girls! All this neon under the 1080p Planet Earth documentary-style veil? Looks like David Attenborough went a little too hard in the paint on this one (sorry I’ll stop).

*referring to the general public, not strange people like me.


You can listen to my 2018 year-in-review playlist here.

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