Sung Tongs, the latest album by New York's Animal Collective, is a step toward accessibility by the busy, constantly side-projecting art-noise experimentalists. A lush fantasia of strummed and picked acoustic guitars, layered Pet Sounds vocal harmonies, and tin-can percussion (held together with a woozy production job sympathetic to stoners wearing headphones), the disc is a teen-pop romp compared to older Collective records such as last year's Here Comes the Indian, which sounded like Black Flag playing with instruments fashioned from wooden sticks and bundled strands of grass after the group had been lost in a forest near a freeway for a year.
Live, the Collective takes considered steps back toward loose backyard-drum-circle experimentalism, just like the art-damaged big-city post-hippies they are; Sung Tongs' cheery almost-songs include plenty of room for onstage manipulation -- the CD's chewy middle section is as jam-happy as an eBayed Dave Matthews bootleg -- so don't expect the band to fulfill the popwise aspirations its most Simon & Garfunkel-style moments suggest. But do expect to trip the heck out.
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