washingtonpost.com
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE "Sung Tongs" Fat Cat ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI "Worn Copy" Paw Tracks

Friday, April 22, 2005

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE"Sung Tongs"Fat CatARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI"Worn Copy"Paw Tracks

"Mee-ow / Kitties / Mee-ow / Kitties." That's how the first song on Animal Collective's "Sung Tongs" ends, and no post-kindergarten listener could be blamed for deciding that it will also be his last Animal Collective song.

This overly precious Brooklyn, N.Y., (with a Baltimore County connection) duo is an acid flashback of a band, and that flashback is not to Hendrix or Jefferson Airplane but to the most childish of flower children. This is an album, after all, whose catchiest song is titled "Who Could Win a Rabbit."

When the Collective departs the petting zoo, it's often for some sort of enchanted forest, where acoustic guitars sway in the breeze and nonsense syllables tumble like autumn leaves. "The Softest Voice," for example, arrays pretty warbles atop delicate finger picking. The band's members, who call themselves Avey Tare and Panda Bear, do sometimes join a drum circle, notably on the pound-and-chant "We Tigers." Even at their noisiest, however, Tare and Bear are more kitties than tigers.

If Ariel Pink cared what people thought of him -- which he clearly doesn't -- he wouldn't have opened "Worn Copy" with the 11-minute "Trepanated Earth," a low-fi suite that meanders through prog-rock swoops, Whoish flourishes and what-the-heck sample collage. The L.A.-based Pink (whose actual surname is Rosenberg) writes tunes that are as catchy and offhand as any by Guided by Voices, but he doesn't emulate that band's brevity. This album runs almost 78 minutes and includes more songs that are too long than ones that are too short.

For the patient, however, "Worn Copy" has its rewards. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti is a one-man band whose idiosyncrasies include smeary home-studio sound and percussion that is produced entirely by Pink's mouth. Yet these 17 songs also boast solid melodies and adept guitar, bass and keyboard performances. Such songs as "Immune to Emotion" and "Jules Lost His Jewels" meld rock, soul, funk and that sweet California sound known as "sunshine pop." Pink cites '70s home-taping pioneer R. Stevie Moore as an inspiration, but there's a bit of Brian Wilson in such small-budget, big-sweep numbers as "Oblivious Peninsula."

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Monday at the Black Cat. ? To hear a free Sound Bite from Animal Collective, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8101; to hear Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)

© 2005 The Washington Post Company