These guys look like they could have been casted for the movie Superbad. Not to knock that movies casting (which was fairly brillitant) but these two nerds and a fat kid (sorry dudes), could have played these parts easily, they look the part at least. To be fair though, they probably have been asked but we?re too busy recording their second album, two years after their scruffy debut ?Tooth and Claw?, reminded all the oldschool Animal Collective fans how adventurous that band once was (pre-?Sung Tongs?).
?Make Amends, For We Are Merely Vessels? is a different piece of work. Not as scruffy, tighter produced, loose ideas glued together by a vision. It?s also not an album that will satisfy those oldschool Animal Collective fans, an influence now hidden behind a lot of luscious instrumentation. If ?Tooth and Claw? represented everything out of tune, ?Make Amends, For We Are Merely Vessels? represents everything in tune. The comparisons now are most likely to include the usual postrock suspects (Mogwai, Sigur Ros) but Our Brother The Native add something to that old and tired bag of influences by maintaining their childlike na?vity.
?Rejoice? clearly illustrates this as the warm atmospheric guitar drones and minimal piano ambience get interrupted by crazed, shrieking vocals. A patented Animal Collective move, sure, but after the track has shifted from serene and beautiful to a cacaphony of screeching guitars and splashing cymbals it retreats to the previously heard serenity with gorgeous, chant-like drones.
It?s especially the patience and calmth with which they manage to keep the 11 minutes of ?Rejoice? interesting that shows how much the threesome has grown over the past year. That said, there are a lot of predictable crescendo?s on this album that will undoubtedly scare away avid postrock-haters. ?As they Fall Beneath Us? even uses the growling vocals and build up as ?Rejoice? only this time on piano instead of guitar, a nice extension to ?Rejoice? perhaps but one wonders with such a accomplished song if there really should be such an extension at all.
On ?We Are the Living? they switch their vocal style from maddening shriek to dreamy falsetto, touching on the celestial qualities of Sigur R?s, complete with brooding climaxes, albeit in a much poppier and less theatrical way. These aren?t the most convincing moments on Make Amends, For We Are Merely Vessels though. Instantly satisfying if you?re waiting in vain on a new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, not so much if you?ve heard the GY!BE trick die after ?Lift Your Skinny Fists?.
Clearly, they?ve put their best ideas at the beginning (?Rejoice?) and end (the epic ?The Multitudes are Dispersing?) of the album and while the sideways progress the band has made is impressive considering their age, there?s a lot more to gain from their talents. One more album and they might end up with the grade every ambitious musician dreams of. A Foxy 10. 7/10 -- Joris Heemskerk (19 February, 2008)