With an expansive catalog of releases spanning several decades, Animal Collective are one of the 21st century’s definitive experimental bands—shaping the sounds of both underground and mainstream music permanently, while always following their own creative arrow.
The product of a lifelong friendship that spans much of their childhood, the Baltimore-hailing quartet of Dave “Avey Tare” Portner, Josh “Deakin” Dibb, Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox, and Brian “Geologist” Weitz have collaboratively made music together since high school, officially forming Animal Collective in New York City in 2000. Their early albums, from 2000’s Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished to 2003’s Here Comes the Indian and Campfire Songs, featured varying permutations of the band’s lineup and a variety of sonic settings, from shimmering ambience to rustic, elliptical folk; in 2004, they experienced what would be one of several critical and commercial breakthroughs with the acoustic, dusky Sung Tongs. The following year, they returned with the electric, ecstatic Feels, amplifying their rock-indebted tendencies and further exploring the sound on 2007’s Strawberry Jam. Before the end of the 2000s, they released the landmark Merriweather Post Pavilion, a singular exploration of dance music and electronic pop that was regarded as one of the decade’s best musical works—and since then, they haven’t stopped moving, from the beguiling visual album ODDSAC, the proggy structures of Centipede Hz, and Painting With’s early-rock playfulness to the submerged abstractions of the band’s latest, Tangerine Reef.
Factoring in each member’s solo works, side projects, and collaborations, there have been few bands in the last 25 years that have been as persistently exploring the limits of their sound than Animal Collective.