There was a trajectory to follow with Animal Collective for nearly the past decade. As crazy, sprawling, and mulch-directional got (and it is all those things, and more), for the most part there was an aspect to latch onto for their releases. Sung Tongs was their folk album, Feels their rock album, etc. But with Merriweather Post Pavilion (their synth album), there was something grander to it. Almost like everyone thought "Wow this is great, but where does the band go from here?". It just did not seem logical for a band like Animal Collective to return to their previous sounds, and it almost made sense for break-up rumors to start to emerge after the band had finished touring.
Those questions seem moot when listening to this single though. For all intensive purposes, these songs are "classic" Animal Collective, representing both radical sides of the band. However, they are only classic in the sense of feeling very familiar, despite branching out in new directions. "Honeycomb" is the song destined to end on every year end list, jumpy and tension filled all at once, as if the sudden bursts and shifts from tribal loopiness to synthy based loopiness is just a prequel to something more. It has the feel of the excellent "Guys Eyes" , but more insane, as if they deiced to compress all of Feels into the mixing for that song as well. "Gotham" is surprising apt. at capturing the feel of it's name sake, despite the fact it would never, ever be featured in a Batman movie. It's the band at their droney best, or at least appearing like that at the forefront. As the song goes on it expands as well, becoming more intense without one realizing it. Before they know it drums are crashing, loudly, as the pain/sadness in Avey Tare's vocals becomes stronger. "Gotham" excellence lies in how offhandedly its power grabs you.
While everyone was less then patiently waiting for more Animal Collective music, I don't think anyone wanted another Merriweather Post Pavilion, as much as people adored that album. True to form though, Animal Collective, with just two songs, show their greatness in whatever form it takes.
Animal Collective's Website
Pre-order "Honeycomb b/w Gotham" here, from Domino Records