Animal Collective - Brother Sport

Dan Round 23/11/2009

Rating: 4/5

The third (and presumably final) single from Animal Collective's “Merriweather Post Pavilion” - their most critically lauded and commercially successful album to date - “Brother Sport” is somewhat of an odd choice to be lifted from the record. Clocking in at 6 minutes, the Collective's recent set closer is hardly radio friendly - having said that, it's not a great deal longer than the “My Girls” single from earlier this year. What is particularly striking about the new single, however, is the massive shift in style that commences 1 minutes in, with “Brother Sport” mutating from feel-good Afro-beat to a pounding techno jam of epic proportions, before finally returning to the signature tribal chants. It's hardly typical territory for a single of any band, even a band as erratic as they are.

Noah Lennox (aka 'Panda Bear') apparently wrote the song as a direct plea to his own brother; judging by the intensity of this record - its hypnotic polyrhythm, head-spiraling beats, declarative lyrics and domineering chants - the siblings must have one hell of a relationship (“Open up your throat” Noah instructs his brother, 'Matt' in the first few strains). Though “Brother Sport” is impressive musically - it once again proves that Animal Collective are at the same time one of the most boundary-pushing mainstream bands, yet also one of the most playful and fun pop bands of recent years - the song nevertheless does feel like far too much of an album track to be released as a stand-alone single.

Despite its experimentation and considerable length however, the consequential lack of radio play will do nothing to harm Animal Collective who, with this euphoric record, keep both their pop sensibilities and 'progressive' stylings well in tact. This is a fittingly festive and truly celebratory song to cap off another great year for Animal Collective… cue every 'alternative' top 10 end-of-year/end-of-decade list. And rightly so, too.