I Was The Man With The Animal Powers
Thank you everyone who sent replies to my question “why do Animal Collective matter?”
Breaking the replies down thematically I’d say four main ideas came out. So, in roughly reverse order of popularity:
4. “Lady if you have to ask you’ll never know”: Catch-all for replies which are basically “this is a dumb question because the band can only be experienced not described”. Fewer of these than I anticipated! (Thankyou) (Though the qn may well have been dumb)
3. Drugs. OK, fair enough. But more generally talk of “weirdness”, of the need to concentrate on the music, hear details in it, be surprised by sounds - pretty much your standard line on a psych band I’d guess.
2. Innovation/originality. Sometimes framed in terms of “…in today’s awful music scene” but more as a good in itself. The specific spin on this is that AnCo aren’t determined or conceptual pioneers so much as experimenters, continually trying stuff out and using different sounds, which is why ‘nobody else sounds like them’ and ‘every album is different’. Also appreciation of the band’s growth.
1. Emotions. The sense that the band have tapped some kind of pure wellspring of joy, primal happiness, release. This was the main reason.
A lot of replies either went for #1 or #2 - my guess is that people going for #1 were more likely to make a Beach Boys comparison, people going for #2 a Beatles one - easily the most two referenced other bands, at any rate (Radiohead in third).
Dogs (or other animals) that didn’t bark: not much about communality, the band speaking to a particular tribe or community. Not much specific reference to them live. Not a lot about lyrics. Drugs aside, not much about what you’d do with the music (eg dancing), but some of these non-appearing themes will be down to how I posed the question: asked to consider the importance of something it’s possible people tone down the social or utilitarian aspects of a band and dial up the ineffability.
I made a Wordle of the responses, too.