Our top 10 Animal Collective songs list digs deep into the music of an American band best known for its impact in reshaping the facade of indie rock with its experimental music. Formed in 1999, the Baltimore quartet established its musical pursuits on the appreciation of indie rock, experimental pop, psychedelia, freak folk, and electronic music. The shared musical taste and conspicuous musicianship of these close childhood buddies make up the backbone of the band’s enduring relevance in the experimental music scene. Animal Collective has for over two decades maintained its dynamic musical composition, exploring a diverse pool of sonic terrain in its eleven studio albums.
Animal Collective’s Career Beginnings and Album Releases
Inspired by experimental/psychedelic rock outfits including Silver Apple, Can, and Climax Golden Twins, Avey Tare and Panda Bear released their first collaborative LP, Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished. Avey Tare is credited to have penned the lyrics to the songs on this album. The album finds the duo traversing psychedelia and experimental rock, featuring electroacoustic sonic influences. “April and the Phantom,” “Penny Dreadfuls,” “Alvin Row,” and “Chocolate Girl” are some of the notable songs from the album by the duo.
In 2001, Avey Tare and Panda Bear were joined by Geologist for their first collaborative album as a trio. Danse Manatee, issued through Catsup Plate, was the title of the trio’s 2001. With this album, the trio sought experimental rock and noise sonic influences. “Essplode” and “Another White Singer (Little White Glove)” are the most sought-after hits from the album, Danse Manatee. Avey and Panda would later collaborate with Deakin, forming a band under the moniker Campfire Songs.
The trio went on to release an eponymous album in March 2003, exploring psychedelic folk sounds. This five-track LP featured notable songs including “Doggy” and “Queen in My Pictures.” A few months later, the trio was joined by Geologist on a new album, Here Comes the Indian. The album is home to some of the best songs by the band including “Hey Light,” “Slippi,” and “Native Belle.” Here Comes the Indian marked the first time the quartet made music together under the moniker Animal Collective. Nevertheless, all the preceding three studio albums were retroactively classified as Animal Collective’s studio albums.
Under the moniker Animal Collective, Avey and Panda collaborated to release the band’s fifth studio album, Sung Tongs. Sung Tongs was issued through FatCat Records in May 2004. “Who Could Win a Rabbit,” “Winter’s Love,” and “Leaf House” are some of the best Animal Collective songs from the album. The album finds the band exploring a blend of indie rock, experimental rock, psychedelic rock, and freak folk sonic terrains. Sung Tongs sold over twenty thousand copies, showcasing the band’s impact on the indie scene.
In 2005, Animal Collective went on to release Feels, the band’s sixth studio album as a quartet. Feels finds the band exploring similar sonic terrains like seen with Sung Tongs. “Grass,” “Banshee Beat,” “The Purple Bottle,” and “Did You See the Words” are the most popular songs by Animal Collective from the album. Feels was a commercial success, outperforming Sung Tongs by selling over fifty thousand copies.
Strawberry Jam, issued in 2007, marked the band’s seventh studio album. This was the band’s first album issued through Domino Records. Strawberry Jam is an amalgam of experimental pop, psychedelic pop, and electronic pop sounds. The album catapulted Animal Collective to mainstream success, rising to the Billboard 200 for the first time. Strawberry Jam peaked at number seventy-two on the chart, selling over eighty-thousand album copies. “Peacebone,” “Fireworks,” and “For Reverend Green” are some of the best Animal Collective songs from the album.
Animal Collective went on to release its eighth studio album, Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009. Merriweather Post Pavilion finds the band investing heavily into a diverse sound experience, featuring psychedelic pop, electronic pop, avant-pop, synth-pop, neo-psychedelia, and indie sonic influences. This saw the album rise to one of the most critically acclaimed releases of the year, peaking at the second spot on the Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart.
Merriweather Post Pavilion also peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200 chart, the highest position by any Animal Collective album. The album managed to rise to the twenty-sixth spot on the UK Albums Chart. Merriweather Post Pavilion sold close to two hundred thousand copies in the US, achieving a BPI Silver certification. “My Girls,” “Brother Sport,” “Bluish,” and “Summertime Clothes” are the most popular songs by Animal Collective from the album.
In 2012, Animal Collective returned with Centipede Hz, the band’s ninth studio album. Centipede Hz was a fairly impactful album, exploring neo-psychedelia, experimental, and indie rock sounds. “Today’s Supernatural,” “Monkey Riches,” and “Applesauce” are the top musical gems from the album. Centipede Hz went on to peak at number sixteen on the Billboard 200, rising to number fifty-five on the UK Albums Chart. While the album was a commercial success, it failed to surpass Merriweather Post Pavilion, selling slightly over forty thousand copies.
Painting With, issued in 2016, marked the band’s tenth studio album. The album saw the band explore experimental pop and psychedelia pop sonic influences. “FloriDada,” “Lying in the Grass,” and “Golden Gal” are the most sought-after hits by Animal Collective from the album. Painting With went on to peak at number forty-two and forty-six on the UK Albums Chart and Billboard 200, respectively.
In February 2022, Animal Collective issued its eleventh and most recent LP, Time Skiffs. Time Skiffs saw the band explore indie pop and neo-psychedelia sonic influences, unlike most of the previous albums which were pretty much experimental. The album peaked at number one hundred and fifty-two on the Billboard 200. Time Skiffs is home to some of the best Animal Collective songs including “Prester John,” “Walker,” and “We Go Back.”
Animal Collective’s Legacy
Animal Collective remains one of the most reputable experimental indie rock bands of all time. The band has been cited as a major influence on the neo-psychedelia sound, picking up the baton from outfits like Primal Scream, The Flaming Lips, and Spiritualized. Here we present the ten best Animal Collective songs of all time sampled from the band’s eleven studio albums.
# 10 – Fireworks
Ushering us to the top 10 Animal Collective songs list is the ravishing hit “Fireworks.” The song is featured on Animal Collective’s seventh studio album, Strawberry Jam. For over six minutes, the band delivers some of its best blends of experimental rock, psychedelic pop, and neo-psychedelia. Like most of the songs on the album, “Fireworks” explores the band’s postmodern poetic and lyrical experimentation.
This impressive piano-driven hit finds its lyrics describing love as comforting and dismal at the same time. As a result, the song oozes quite a complex mood as it tries to balance between a romantic sense and tinges of loss and doubt. “Fireworks” features some inventive percussions and enthusiastic harmonies that make it quite a classic. Avey Tare’s brilliant vocal delivery makes “Fireworks,” a worthwhile experimental pop-influenced masterpiece.
# 9 – Golden Gal
“Golden Gal” is among the top musical gems that added some glamour to the band’s tenth studio album, Painting With. The song opens with a vocal sample borrowed from the TV Show, The Golden Girls. Initially, singer Avey Tare wished to write a song about gender roles. A conversation with a friend led him to The Golden Girls, a TV Show that had quite an impact on his friend’s life.
“Golden Gal” serves as the penultimate hit from the album, Painting With. The song is best known for its warm harmonies as well as lively instrumental effects. “Golden Gal” was delivered alongside an accompanying music video made up of amusing and entertaining animations.
# 8 – Today’s Supernatural
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Animal Collective songs list is the charming hit “Today’s Supernatural.” The song is the first single off Animal Collective’s ninth LP, Centipede Hz. “Today’s Supernatural” is yet another impressive feat by Animal Collective featuring superb freak-out vocals by Avey Tare. Layers of burbling beats, sweltering percussions, and pounding piano riffs are quite conspicuous in this hit.
The three elements are perfectly blended together yielding a frantic melody. However, it is the perfect melding of the song’s lyrics and vocalization that make the song quite the masterpiece it is. “Today’s Supernatural” managed to rise to the forty-fifth spot on the Mexico Ingles Airplay.
# 7 – Who Could Win a Rabbit
The rise to commercial success in the US for Animal Collective came about after the release of the album, Sung Tongs. This was quite a major feat for Animal Collective, despite having the album recorded by two of the band’s members Avey Tare and Panda Bear. “Who Could Win a Rabbit” was the biggest of all releases from the album Sung Tongs and a fan favorite to date.
While the song has been described as Animal Collective’s great shot at experimental pop, “Who Could Win a Rabbit” features elements of psychedelic folk and freak folk. “Who Could Win a Rabbit” finds the duo making heavy use of acoustic guitars. The song went on to become one of the earliest breakthrough hits for the band.
# 6 – Brother Sport
Number six on our top 10 Animal Collective songs list is the exceptional hit “Brother Sport.” The song is featured on Animal Collective’s universally-acclaimed LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Panda Bear revealed that “Brother Sport” alludes to encouragement to his brother who was having troubling moments at the time this hit was being penned. This six-minute hit was a success on the charts, peaking at number ninety-six on the French Singles Chart. “Brother Sport” was sampled in “Carmel Valley Girls” by Junk Culture and “Show Up Blow Up” by Smith Comma John.
# 5 – FloriDada
Painting With is home to the fifth pick of our top 10 Animal Collective songs list, “FloriDada.” “FloriDada” finds the band reawakening its love for synth effects and call-and-response melodies. According to Avey Tare, “FloriDada” was inspired by the dislike for Florida people. Panda Bear would refer to the song as a reference to people’s hyperbolic responses to a wrecked world.
“FloriDada” goes on to showcase the band’s view of the state of Florida, as a representation of the realm of weirdness. The song was a success on the Mexico Ingles Airplay, peaking at number forty-eight. “FloriDada” brings out the best of Animal Collective’s psychedelic pop sonic influences. The song sampled the 1962 hit “Wipe Out” by the American surf rock band, The Surfaris.
“Grass” is one of the most energetic hits of the mid-2000s by Animal Collective. The song is equivocally the best Animal Collective song from the band’s sixth studio album, Feels. Despite “Grass” being among the most energetic hits by the band, it manages to feature soft melodies which make it quite an alluring release. With this song, Animal Collective blended experimental, neo-psychedelia, and freak folk sonic influences. The result was one of the most applauded hits by both fans and critics of the band’s musical pursuits.
# 3 – Summertime Clothes
The third pick on our ten best Animal Collective songs list is the impressive hit “Summertime Clothes.” “Summertime Clothes” is the perfect summertime anthem, having the song lyrics quote walking through the boulevards during nighttime when it is too hot to sleep. Initially, the song was entitled “Bearhug,” featuring high-pitched vocals and different lyrics.
This melodic pop-oriented hit brings is featured on the band’s 2009 LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion. “Summertime Clothes” went on to top the Billboard Dance/Electronic Singles Sales Chart, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart. The song is featured in the soundtrack of Skate 3, a 2010 skateboarding video game.
# 2 – Peacebone
Strawberry Jam marked the band’s first time to have an album feature on the Billboard 200. Thanks to hits like “Peacebone” Animal Collective was able to achieve the feat. “Peacebone” also marked the band’s first release issued through Domino Records. The song went on to become the band’s first hit to make it to the charts, topping the Billboard Dance/Electronic Singles Sales Chart.
Thanks to the exceptional vocal delivery by Avey Tare and the song’s eccentric melodies Animal Collective was able to achieve critical acclaim with this hit. Remix versions of the song have been issued by Black Dice, an American noise music band, and Pantha du Prince, a German composer and artist. Lauren O’Connell released a cover of the song in 2012, alongside covers hits to songs by Bruce Springsteen, The Zombies, The Everly Brothers, Beach House, and Bob Dylan among others.
# 1 – My Girls
Number one on our top 10 Animal Collective songs list is the glamorous hit “My Girls.” The song is among the musical gems featured on the band’s LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion. “My Girls” is quite a personal song for Panda Bear, who wishes to put more focus on his family. In this context, ‘his girls’ include his wife and daughter. This experimental pop hit showcases the humble and caring side of Panda Bear who just craves to provide a safe house for his loved ones.
“My Girls” was later covered by Taken by Trees in 2009 and Tears for Fears in 2013. The song has also been sampled in the 2011 hit “Gangrimes Style” by Dan Deacon, “My Girls” by Childish Gambino, and “6 Inch” by Beyoncé featuring The Weeknd. The song rose steadily to become the band’s signature song with multiple critics citing it as the definitive song of the band’s sound.
Top 10 Animal Collective Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.