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Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #14 Animal Collective

 

The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!

Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.

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#14 Animal Collective

Most (even mildly) experimental art is inherently pretentious; it assumes, "you will consume this and you will enjoy it because it's more creative than what you, yourself, are capable of. It's a perspective you aren't familiar with." A hefty claim, but it's the reason you can find at least one detractor to dismiss any given work of art in this world: "that's too pretentious for me." Sometimes they have a point, but other times, who cares? There is no point past which good art drops its pretentiousness; it simply overcomes it. The perspective becomes more interesting than the arrogance embedded in the medium, and the art morphs into a transcendental experience.

A bunch of people don't like Animal Collective. It's hard to find a foothold in their work, what with their odd arrangements, uncommon treatment of common instruments, particularly yelpy and distorted vocals, and overall, um, weirdness. A bunch of weirdness. It would be easy and even understandable if you snubbed them on this basis alone, except holy damn, look at all the people they've captivated through sheer obtuse and unpredictable enthusiasm over the years! (Fun (probably) fact: this is the only exclamation point to appear in one of my top 100 artist / album articles, and here it is an exclamation point well earned. Don't take it lightly.) What began as a repository for lower-than-lo-fi noise experiments slowly gathered steam, and all of sudden, certainly by the time they dropped the lush Feels and probably a release or two before that, they were America's foremost "strange" rock band.

Yes, there's that transcendental shift that marks the very truest artists. They stopped believing they were interesting and simply became interesting. Strawberry Jam combined the soft textures of Feels with the galloping, chirpy rhythm work of Sung Tongs, ensuring their place in the ranks of the most prestigious and well respected bands around. Like 'em or not – you're not required – they deserve a hell of a lot of respect for their bizarre treatment of pop music.

- Phillip Taylor-Parker

[ play ] | [ download mp3 ] Animal Collective - Peacebone

[ play ] | [ download mp3 ] Animal Collective - Water Curses

Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.

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