Of all the things the triumphant Merriweather Post Pavilion has accomplished since its January release, perhaps the most important is the crowning of Animal Collective as the indie kings of organizing lo-fi ambience and other fuzzy noises into trippy neo-folk opuses. To that end, there’s no sound tinkering on the slightly premature Fall be Kind EP that isn’t better executed or more thoroughly explored than on its predecessor. Indeed, it’s more of the same, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing but for the change in tone. Here, Merriweather‘s organic, beastly fun is replaced with something altogether more clinical and, dare I say it, safe. As the work of a band known for joyfully tackling strange side paths and diversions, Fall Be Kind is strangely paint-by-numbers, a collection of underdeveloped, predictable song ideas punctuated by long periods of cyclical experimentation for experimentation’s sake.
The EP’s best offerings—namely, the demure “Graze” and free-skipping “What Would I Want? Sky”—have redundant padding, with Noah Lennox and company wading needlessly through indulgent, tacked-on preludes before reaching anything of merit. Elsewhere, the opposite problem persists: Rising with a wonderfully evil melody that shudders and convulses as if it had just dug its slithering bulk up out of a grave, “I Think I Can” takes little time to flatline and then trip, falling into the same kind of directionless, half-baked haze that often plagued the weaker entries of Merriweather. Thus, when not overextending the disappointing, unfinished musical projects on Fall Be Kind‘s, the Collective are busy beating their promising ideas into monotony.