Firstly, I have never heard such immensely agreeable lyrics, especially surprising when you consider that Panda Bear is a member of Animal Collective, who wrote more shitty lyrics than they did good ones (sometimes their abstract lyrics worked with their psychedelics (ie: “This house is sad / Because he’s not / Inside it”) but at other times, if you read them aloud without the music you kind of have to wonder what the fuck they were thinking (ie: “Have you seen them? / The words cut open / Your poor intestines / Can’t deny”), and especially considering that Animal Collective belongs is an indie band with the backing of Pitchfork, who normally enjoy bands who speak in more melodramatic languages.
Examples? Every line in “Comfy in Nautica” could be a mantra that finds its way onto a shirt or plaque, “Coolness is having courage / Courage to do what’s right,” and “Try to remember always, always have a good time.” Meanwhile, I haven’t heard something as heartwarming as “I don’t want for us to take pills anymore, not that it’s bad / I don’t want for us to take pills because we’re stronger and we don’t need them” since Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Don’t take those pills your boyfriend gave you / You’re too wonderful to die” from “Song Against Sex” – and it’s been more than a decade in between! “Surely there’s no substitute for company?” Bingo. “I’m not trying to forget you / I just like to be alone?” Goddamn. “When my soul starts growing … I wish it would never would stop growing?” Childhood is short and maturity is forever. When people talk about Person Pitch as a turning point in Animal Collective’s sound and a precursor to 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, they’re referring to the band capitalizing on Panda Bear’s melodic prowess (Avey Tare has revealed himself to be unable to carry a tune (“Unsolved Mysteries”) which is fine if he’s screaming his ass off (“For Reverend Green”)) and imbuing it with lyrics that actually signify something (“My Girls,” anyone?).
Musically? Panda Bear somehow captured all the movement in the summertime – from riding on the train to get to your friend’s cottage (“Comfy in Nautica”), to getting to the island via ferry (“Comfy” again; Torontonians will know what I’m talking about – holla!), to riding around town on your skateboard because there’s nothing better to do (“Take Pills”), celebrating life in places where you can buy celebration (“Bros”). Even “I’m Not” and “Ponytail,” less complex than the tracks around them, capture the cool breezes that envelop you once you’ve cocooned yourself in your backyard hammock. The only tracks that are less affecting are “Search for Delicious” – a waste of a good title that doesn’t know if it’s going to be an ambient track or whatever’s the next level up – and “Good Girl / Carrots” which begins well enough, the soundtrack of Tarzan bounding through the trees, but like Feels’ “Purple Bottle,” the second half is kind of boring, except in this case, the second half takes 9 minutes and the first half isn’t nearly as good.
Anyway, I don’t think that Person Pitch is the type of album where a deconstruction for details is needed because it’s an album that rides on repetition, but I’ll do my best to point out the things that are important to me. “Comfy in Nautica” features everyone in the cover art (animals included) sitting in a circle around a campfire “ah”-ing and clapping along to Panda Bear’s one-man gospel impression (on a side note: he reportedly tries for a more throated singing approach on follow-up Tomboy but I feel like “Comfy in Nautica” hit that mark wonderfully and he never achieved it again). Two particular things to note: when the clapping doubles (at the 2:40 mark) that promptly begins fading out and the “ah”-ing get progressively louder. Then, as the song concludes and the foghorn comes in, the “ah”-ing breaks down into a quieter one followed immediately by a louder one that’s even louder than before – like it never wants to stop! Love it! “Bros” (even if I’m unconvinced needed 12 minutes to do what it needs to do, especially when “Take Pills” managed a just-as-natural shift in almost a third of the time) rides nicely thanks to its shimmering acoustic guitar in its first half before shakers come in and everyone around the campfire gets up and starts dancing for its second half.
The first three songs here also feature these tiny additions that keep them immensely replayable because you probably missed them while being submerged in the summery psychedelics: what sounds like a dolphin cooing throughout “Comfy in Nautica,” squishing waves in the second half of “Take Pills” after it’s become a buoyant dance number (bass, bass!), and you can hear a man crying and later, children running towards the swings in a span of minutes in “Bros,” because it’s one of those all-emotion-encompassing songs (the best songs here all qualify). My favorite though, is at the end of the “Take Pills,” where Panda Bear bothers with the tiniest detail – adding the little boops at the end of “Take Pills” that sounds like when the “Fasten Your Seatbelt” sign flashes on next to the immortal “No Smoking” number as your flight begins taking off into the 12-minutes that is “Bros” – inflate the vest by pulling down on the red tabs, or manually inflate by blowing into the tubes on either side … thank you for choosing Air Canada.
One of the best albums of 2007.