It’s easy to write off Animal Collective’s Fall Be Kind EP as a cynical cash-in released to feed off the lingering enthusiasm still surrounding Merriweather Post Pavillion, their stunning crossover smash from earlier this year; it is, after all, only five songs long and it does have a pretty clear marketing hook (“What Would I Want? Sky” and its Grateful Dead sample, the first instance of the Dead letting someone else use their music), and Domino is releasing at the ideal time to remind rock critics of AC’s existence for year-end list-making purposes. Just saying.
Of course, that’s an awful lot of cynicism to project onto a band made up of dudes with names like “Panda Bear” and with a reputation for writing lyrics like “The frightened babies poo” – particularly when Fall Be Kind happens to be a fun little musical experience in its own right. While it’s probably too eclectic to appeal to fans of the single-minded focus of Merriweather‘s highlights – opener “Graze”, for instance, is suddenly invaded by preposterous SCA panpipes about halfway through – there’s a certain restless beauty to Fall Be Kind which only emerges as get comfortable with the way it unceremoniously switches between musical styles, especially when you listen to it as a whole instead of as a bunch of discrete tracks. It’s a record for people who want to listen to something indie and pretty and bohemian and new, even if it isn’t necessarily a record for people who bought Merriweather Post Pavillion for “My Girls”.