Animal Collective: "Honeycomb" / "Gotham"

Single (2012)

By Matt Main | 11 May 2012

Prime-time Saturday release, a Super Mario sample, their first real release for the best part of three years; if Animal Collective give a shit about what the internet is thinking, they’re probably bemused as to why the world has gone all silent on them right now. Maura Johnston rightfully noted on Twitter that not so long ago “a new Animal Collective song would cause the internet to shudder in ecstasy.” This week, the new Passion Pit song has been retweeted onto my timeline more frequently. (Don’t read too much into what that might say about me.) If something that receives hundreds of blog posts containing a video and two perfunctory lines necessarily including the words “welcome” and “surprise” can ever be called a non-event, this is almost certainly it: the interest in this seems shallow to the point of being disingenuous.

Maybe that can be a good thing. These are only two songs, remember, the album on the horizon is still a mirage as yet, and discussion of Implications for Contemporary Music is thankfully someone else’s future nightmare. And so from this unburdened standpoint, let me state that I think “Honeycomb” is an excellent romp of a song, “Gotham” less so, but both are vaguely underwhelming, in that they lack the vitality Animal Collective have basically trademarked.

“Gotham” particularly feels a little too laboured, and it’s uncharacteristically legible structure negates the heady feel listeners of Animal Collective love and willingly inhabit. Even that Super Mario sample isn’t particularly clever when you consider what might have been. I mean, I love that “Honeycomb” is a gorgeous surge to oblivion, and think the Chinese box-like structure by which it packs its components within itself, verse into pre-chorus, pre-chorus into chorus, chorus into magnificent climax, is wonderful; all of that is great, but like the smallest box, ultimately hollow, as if it packs itself for the simply the sake of doing so. Maybe that’s all this 7” amounts to: again, these are only two songs, and most likely ones released with designs on sparking new enthusiasm for future, ubiquitous Animal Collective product. While that might not have been totally successful, it’s difficult to imagine that it’s less genuine disinterest, and more that we’re all just waiting for meatier bait before biting.