- SPIN Rating:7 of 10
As half the songwriting force in Animal Collective, Avey Tare is the Trogg to Panda Bear's Beach Boy. In contrast to Panda's dulcet harmonies ("My Girls"), Tare's songs are filled with yips, growls, and strangulated yelps ("Grass," "Peacebone"). This juxtaposition of the serene and the abrasive, the placid and the turbulent, is what gives Animal Collective much of its appeal. Across his solo releases, though (either with ex-wife Kría Brekkan on the inscrutable Pullhair Rubeye or on 2010's Down There), Tare's voice has little to react to, something remedied in part on his new trio's debut, Enter the Slasher House.
Buoyed by girlfriend and former Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, Tare has plenty to bounce off of here. The opening analog synths of "A Sender" suggest an ominous horror movie atmosphere, but it soon gives way to a near-punk drive. Despite both band and album name, Slasher Flicks' sound is less haunted house than funhouse: dense, noisy, with squiggles of analog synth that recall AnCo's Centipede Hz. But Slasher House also has sweet pop moments, suggesting mouthfuls of cotton candy and bellyaches brought on by too many carousel rides.
Hyman's drumming thrills throughout, delivering power surges and acrobatic rhythmic accompaniment to Tare's outbursts. He creates a furious post-rock pummel on "Blind Babe," and as Tare stretches and distorts his vocals on "That It Won't Grow," Hyman bashes all around him. The first single "Little Fang" might be Tare's most giddy pop moment of either band, reminiscent of fellow Angelino weirdo Ariel Pink and just as queerly catchy. Yet it also shows the album's weakness. While one can just make out Deradoorian's backing vocals on the track, she's under-utilized elsewhere. As every film buff knows, the best slasher flicks feature screaming heroines.