Stereogum x Amazon MP3 Friendly Deals #4: Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam

Here’s the next installment in a series that brings you classic indie rock albums at hugely discounted prices. Every week, Amazon.com is letting us select one album from its MP3 store to go on super sale (up to 75% off normal prices). Hopefully you’ll be able to add these must-own LPs to your library without breaking your budget. Today’s deal: Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam.

Animal Collective’s eighth (seven studio, one live) album Strawberry Jam is the most recent title in our series of Amazon selections. That said, a lot has happened — post-Strawberry jams, Water Curses, the impending Merriweather Post Pavilion, apologies from Grizzly Bear — since we first heard “Peacebone” thru “Derek.” When going back through A.C.’s output, it’s difficult labeling a true “best album” because they’ve managed to shape-shift for so long. You could see Sung Tongs as the crossover, but Strawberry Jam is where they found a way to deepen their sound, making it more accessible (a la Panda Bear’s Person Pitch), but just as adventurous as their earlier, more free-form work. For starters, the nine songs’ food, firework, Al Green, and magi-centered lyrics — don’t forget that mildewed rice — are easier to parse than past chirps and chants, the syllables even less stuttered than those on the lovely Feels. It also goes down easiest from start to finish.

As we wrote when we first evaluated Jam’s Tucson-recorded avant-pop, the songs have “fewer stretches of weirdo ambiance; even blustery/blown-out ‘Winter Wonder Land”s a melted box of Crayola’s” and that the collection’s best tracks aren’t necessarily the warped shooting-stars of “#1″ or “Cuckoo Cuckoo”‘s extended tunneling, but instead, the infectious, tricolor trip-pop tunes:

“Peacebone” bumps along with a steel drum jangling besides a bubbly rhythm and layers of whiplash vocal effects; “Chores” laps constantly, its pinball calypso build finding a psychedelic (beach) boy-band upswing at the 3/4 mark; and the sweaty sermon, “For Reverend Green,” skitters with a Modest Mousy spastic yowl (as does the excellent “Fireworks”). The band’s always offered catch in their golden throats, but these tracks possess more focused dynamics: defined lead/backing vocalists, tighter structures, and bigger choruses.

A year and change later, those choruses are even bigger, and the less immediate tracks like aforementioned “#1″ and “Cuckoo Cuckoo” have bloomed, making this a collection best absorbed as one twittering, chirping whole. For the next week, you can pick it up at Amazon MP3 for $2.99, down from the original price of $8.49.

Help us make great albums available at low prices by suggesting future Friendly Deal selections in the comments.