The lowdown on Animal Collective

Oliver Keens looks back at over a decade of weird genius from the foursome

  • Age

    The band formed in 1999.

  • Sounds like

    Childhood memories refracted through a psychedelic prism. Animal Collective don’t have a consistent sound – the lo-fi acoustic guitars of their breakthrough LP ‘Sung Tongs’ ebbed to the thundering electronics of ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ in 2009 – yet at their heart is an ability to produce a sense of searing wistfulness on a par with ‘Citizen Kane’s ‘Rosebud’ motif.

  • Significance

    Animal Collective gigs are the closest thing we have these days to a ‘happening’, being trippy, delirious and joyously packed with people who aren’t afraid to be challenged musically. On Sunday they follow in the wigged-out paths of Pink Floyd and Soft Machine by playing at the Roundhouse.

  • High point

    Their 2009 single ‘My Girls’. A once-in-a-lifetime song that combines a vocal rooted in Americana with a rush of interwoven synths. Dense enough to be played for a dancefloor, and emotional enough to be the first dance at a hipster wedding. It’s a true modern classic.

  • Low point

    An email from a promoter on their last tour who suggested they behave like professionals and play the songs as they were recorded. Fat chance. The Baltimore quartet are experimental to the core – asking them to just do it straight is like asking a leopard to sing ‘New York, New York’. And change its spots.

  • Legacy

    That talented musicians, no matter how unusual, weird or odd, will always find fans.