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Friday, March 4, 2016

Animal Collective's 10 Weirdest Music Videos — Because How Could We Resist?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO: TOM ANDREW
  • Photo: Tom Andrew

Trying to find the weirdest Animal Collective videos is in essence an exercise in futility. Dating back to "Who Could Win a Rabbit," the band's 2004 video for the single off Sung Tongs, the band has made a point of using their music videos as a free-form mode of artistic expression. There is hazy Super 8 footage, blinding flashes of neon, creepy figures lurking out of focus, and occasionally, even the band members themselves.

The elements of an Animal Collective video are often psychedelic visuals, somewhat creepy animations, and people wearing assorted masks. Their visual output in large part does not place an emphasis on story, or even narrative, although there are a few notable exceptions to the rule. 

As Animal Collective heads to The Fox Theater in Oakland on March 7 behind their tenth studio album Painting With, let's look back at the mind-melting history of their music videos. 

10. "Today's Supernatural" (Centipede Hz, 2012)
A person dressed in an over-sized mask that vaguely resembles Animal from The Muppets tears up the desert on a dune buggy with colorful ribbons in tow. Meanwhile Avery Tare, in face paint that falls somewhere between a Juggalo and Dia de los Muertos skull, is shown singing and periodically plucking at a keyboard that appears to be submerged in the side of some kind of volcano. This is one of Animal Collective's more cohesive video story lines, so buckle in.  

9. "Who Could Win a Rabbit" (Sung Tongs, 2004)
In this early video, two people dressed respectively as a rabbit and a turtle race around, first on bicycles, then by foot in a winter forest. There are trippy overlays of the rabbit making snow angels on dead grass, and the feel of the video is that of B-roll footage to something more professionally shot. The oddest moment is in the video's final moments, when close-up shots show the characters savagely eating what appears to be bloody meat. 

8. "Monkey Riches"
(Centipede Hz, 2012)
"Monkey Riches" has somewhat of a story to it. There's an old man who can conjur rope to life. At first he charms it out of a basket, but later it seems to posses a life of it's own, turning the man into a skeleton puppet and sending rope monsters with light beam eyes to attack the video's other two characters. It's hard to say there's a moral to the story, but someone falls down a well and it's one of Animal Collective's few videos to truly establish characters.

7. "Fireworks"
(Strawberry Jam, 2007)
There isn't too much going on in "Fireworks," but the visuals — bursting fireworks upon bursting fireworks — are a pleasant viewing experience. At various points we see the members of Animal Collective, too. They stand staring intently at something we can't see, waving sparklers around, and later there is footage of them ostensibly hanging out in a kitchen. "Fireworks" is a video built to match the pace and energy of the song it's set to, and the choice pays dividends.

"Summertime Clothes" (Merriweather Post Pavilion, 2009)
We open on ice sculptures and fire, and later see people inside of what amount to human-size inflatable hamster balls (think Wayne Coyne at a Flaming Lips concert). These balls have designs reminiscent of bloodshot eyes, and they are pushed about by figures dressed in patchwork fabric that covers them from head to toe. Animal Collective recruited the Brooklyn-based FLEX dance crew to be a part of "Summertime Clothes," although which parts of the video feature dancing as we know the term is a bit of an enigma.

5. "Applesauce"
(Centipede Hz, 2012)
"Applesauce" is a video of the lower half a woman's face as she eats a mango. That's it. There are pulsating colors in the background, and the concept plays off of the song's line, "I ate a mango." It's simultaneously mundane and completely disconcerting. 

4. "In the Flowers"
(Merriweather Post Pavilion, 2009)
In this video, the following things are at some point featured: ribbons spelling out the words "I'm a dancer," thin creepy puppets, shoes tying themselves, stop-motion shots of flowers, sporadic cartoon inserts, candid footage of a bearded man walking around a cityscape, exercise video dancers superimposed into bizarre backgrounds, kitchen magnets spelling out various lyrics in the song, Polaroids stacking themselves, and footage of a mechanical carnival diorama. It may not make any sense, but it looks like it was a hell of a lot fun to create. 

3. "Peacebone"
(Strawberry Jam, 2007)
Perhaps Animal Collective's most universally understandable video is "Peacebone," which tells the story of a monster who meets up with a girl in goth make-up and 1950s clothing with a red convertible, and they have a grand night out. The monster is as visceral as any of the best X-Files ghouls, but the video is a love story, showing the two as they frolic in a field, go to a carnival, throw toilet paper at a house, and eventually run away from the police together. During the screaming interlude of the song, a small alien reminiscent of Aliens protrudes from the girl's mouth. A true love story.

2. "Brother Sport"
(Merriweather Post Pavilion, 2009)
For a song as catchy as "Brother Sport," it's fitting that in it's latter half, we watch as two children destroy a room with paint and eggs. With outfits that hearken back to Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, the children first race around a field, as the video cuts to footage of odd cartoon figures and neon-painted balloons bursting against the floor. There is a lot thrown at the wall, both literally and figuratively, but it mostly manages to stick, buoyed by one of Animal Collective's most lasting singles. 

1. "FloriDada"
(Painting With, 2016)
Epileptics beware! "FloriDada" shows two CGI human figures on an island, then in a bed with floating candles as a kaleidoscope of colors swirl in and out. And then there is a sudden and sustained pulsing of imagery that truly may induce seizures in those prone to such episodes. At some point, we see a baby like the dancing one made famous on Ally McBeal, and there are shots of a cartoon Florida breaking off from the United States, as well. With animation done by Adult Swim maestro PFFR, "FloriDada" is unique in the canon of Animal Collective music videos because it actually has the power to cause a real medical reaction from its viewers. 

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About The Author

Zack Ruskin

Zack Ruskin

Zack was born in San Francisco and never found a reason to leave. He has written for Consequence of Sound, The Believer, The Millions, and The Rumpus. He is still in search of a Bort license plate.


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