I have an admitted bias towards bands that can reproduce their recorded performance in a live setting, but I also appreciate the amount of mastery it takes in a recording environment to create a really good sounding record. The listener generally hears music in terms of sound rather than notes anyway, and today, because every sound is available at any time, it is literally impossible to create a convincing sounding recording by accident – a well-defined concept is absolutely necessary. In this department, True Loves is a success
Hooray for Earth’s music is not particularly complex or novel, and although there are a couple of songs that are quite good, most of the songs are just OK. They maximize this relative simplicity, however, by constructing massive synth grooves within virtual echoing hallways. The album’s overall sound encourages me to listen to the recording as the end product, rather than the live performance.
Perceiving the recording as a primary mode of performance was the key to appreciating Animal Collective’s excellent 2009 release Merriweather Post Pavillion during the Carrollton period. There was quite a bit of hype surrounding this album when it came out, which I think it generally lived up to. I had to let go of the band's live persona, though, to realize the strength of the recording.
My Girls is noticeably more layered, complex, and adventurous overall than the shoegazy True Loves, but Animal Collective does share the constructed studio ambience with Hooray for Earth that was characteristic in the late 80s due to the work of Depeche Mode, New Order, and other synth-pop pioneers. This soundscape ended up being somewhat incompatible with my distracted and dreary squint-eyed walk to the optometrist in New England last week, though, despite my attempt to deliberately set up an experience with the album. It was not until later that I had an unintentional “moment” with True Loves, looking out from within the more mechanical confines of an airplane on a summer afternoon flight back to Texas.