Animal Collective - “On a Plain”
Thinking about Tom Ewing’s post. I like AC, but mainly their less dreamy/more creepy stuff. When I was first getting into them around Sung Tongs, this cover was one of the songs that first opened them up to me. (And I’ve written about it before, here.) Successful covers of Nirvana tend to be out-of-the-box covers (think Tori), but I like this one for keeping a major element of Nirvana’s sound and pushing it further. AC’s “On A Plain” feels like its being covered by children who are reading its punk vibe not as angry rebellion but as a way to play with huge, frightening sounds. Kurt was definitely intending some of this. “Sliver” encapsulates a fairly standard idea that punks are always little kids, reacting to the unfair rules and hypocrisies of the adult world. But AC push this feeling deeper. It’s not a metaphor for AC - childhood is how they want you to experience the world. They want their listeners to feel like children, with all of the joy and terror and mystery that includes. Kurt was being hopeless when he said, “I love myself better than you,” but here, Avey Tare and Panda Bear are fairly accurately summarizing what a kid feels. This child-like attitude does cause them some sacrifices. “My Girls” does not have the same socially critical force of, say, “Polly.” But AC can include a varied palate of emotions in their music, including joy. This idea that we should be like kids - that a modified form of punk is a kid-like music - probably creeps some people out (it creeps me out a bit), but it’s not much different from the idea that we shouldn’t feel guilty about liking a pop song’s uncomplicated melodic hooks.