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How to Fake Like You’ve Listened to Animal Collective

After the massive success of “Stereotyping People By Their Favorite Indie Bands,” we take another cue from the great Lauren Leto, this time inspired by her article on “How to Fake Like You’ve Read Dostoevsky.” Much like the knowledge that “Dostoevsky got exiled to Siberia because he’s a badass motherf*cker” will get you through a pal’s snooty MFA mixer, this handy dandy guide on Animal Collective will enable you to engage with the most rabid and literate of Animal Collective fans. Let the faking begin.

1. Being a true Animal Collective fan is to not actually like Animal Collective. That is, you must claim to enjoy the side projects of Animal Collective more than the band itself. Say that Panda Bear’s sophomore album, Person Pitch (2007) is the best album of the decade, that you enjoyed its whimsical spaciousness and unlikely choice of samples. The subtext is as follows: “I’ve listened to so much Animal Collective that I am post-Animal Collective. Now make me a sandwich.”

2. Know your Deakin. Animal Collective has four members: Panda Bear, Geologist, Avey Tare and Deakin. The thing is, they seem to take their “collective” title literally, and not all band members contribute to every release. For instance, the last album Deakin played on was 2007’s Strawberry Jam, and he is currently in Africa working on his own project. So, you’ll want to acknowledge the “sonic shift” that occurred after his departure and feign resentment. “They really started to move away from traditional instrumentation once Deakin left…now they look like a bunch of DJ’s on stage…it wasn’t always like that. I miss him.” Inevitably, you will have to hypothesize about his absence on Merriweather Post Pavilion. Say it was drug-related.

3. Geologist is nicknamed Geologist because someone thought he was studying geology at Columbia University. He never actually studied geology. For a humorous aside, say something like, “Still, it’s sort of appropriate because he looks like Geodude, a rock type Pokemon.”

4. Your favorite Animal Collective album is NOT Merriweather Post Pavilion. This is the favorite album of entry-level AC listeners. Strawberry Jam is held with similar regard. When talking about these albums, explain that you understand their commercial viability with this little ditty: “Yeah, I definitely see why people liked those albums, the vocals were really upfront in the mix.” If you are asked about your favorite Animal Collective record, think before you speak. IT IS A TRICK QUESTION. Remember point 1? “Personally, I enjoy Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, though I suppose you can’t really consider it an Animal Collective album, despite the obvious similarities.” But if you must pick an AnCo release, go with the early, obscure albums with weird titles: Here Comes the Indian and Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished work nicely.

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5. Notice that in “faking it” to Animal Collective, you rarely, if ever, talk directly about their music. This is not a mistake. A conversation with an AC fan is never about the music. In fact, it’s not even a conversation — it’s a competition. The goal is to prove that your enjoyment of AC is more authentic than that of your buddy. Achieve this through thinly veiled insults. “Oh…’My Girls’ is your favorite song? If I hadn’t heard anything else from the Animal Collective discography, that would be my favorite song too! We have so much in common.”