I was in a bad fucking mood. I'd just been robbed. Chunks of my car's broken widow littered the street, the interior, and now they were wedged into my fingertips. I was on vacation in a strange city and I was bleeding. There was no money left for repairs.
I turned the key and the stereo clicked on loud, just how I left it. "For Reverend Green," from Animal Collective's latest, Strawberry Jam, blared, and the fog began to lift. My mood changed. I noticed the sun, the breeze, and the steep, beautiful streets of San Francisco. All was well. It was the magic realism of Strawberry Jam that did it. More so than any other release from Animal Collective, this one takes you somewhere else. 2004's Sung Tongs offered an aesthetic promise that the following year's Feels cashed in on, as the band began to cultivate a most profoundly odd, bustling pop sensibility.
With 2007's Strawberry Jam, the evolution continues with a more vivid lyricism and tighter construction, but the biggest shift isn't what's been added. "We've been wanting to move away from using guitars altogether, and so this was a step in that process," explains Geologist, AKA Brian Weitz.
Speaking from the back of the tour van, Weitz checked with his bandmates to be sure—and yes, in fact, there are guitars on every track of Strawberry Jam—but sometimes it's difficult to tell. "Dave, Noah, and I are working on new material where guitar is not being used at all," he added, referring to some of the 10 new songs the group has written since recording wrapped.
With Strawberry Jam it's as if you've been invited into the band's bright, airy, infinite kitchen for dinner. You dig in the drain for dinosaur bones. Giant pots of vegetables boil over. Babies cry at the sight of killers peeking in the window. Everyone eats acid and convulses on the floor. Dracula sings a song with a band of Easter bunnies. You kiss a lovely girl. Goddamn it, it's so fucking weird! I want to go back.