Avey Tare’s new album Eucalyptus may be self-indulgent piffle, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. Indeed, one of its charms is the good-natured way it drifts and meanders according to the whims of its creator, deeper meanings and commercial viability be damned.
The latest solo foray from the Animal Collective co-founder may remind some people of Washed Out’s recent LP Mister Mellow. Not that the two releases sound all that similar — while Mister Mellow’s steady beats are dance floor-ready, the subdued vocals, woozy acoustic guitar and oddball noises of Eucalyptus evoke being alone in your room with your thoughts (and maybe some killer weed).
Instead, what connects the two albums is a certain tongue-in-cheek quality. While Mister Mellow and its accompanying “visual album” satirize the privileged self-involvement of first-worlders, Eucalyptus seems at times to mock the stereotype of the uber-sensitive singer-songwriter.
The exaggerated drawl that Tare adopts for these lines adds to the song’s jokey feel.
But even here, Tare’s goofy low end and airy drones undercut the song’s ominous elements. That’s the standard operating procedure throughout the album: Every time things start getting a little too portentous, up pops some funny little moan, squeak or echo to throw everything off balance.
Perhaps Tare’s way of announcing Eucalyptus says it all. Does it mean anything that he told the world about his new solo album via jigsaw puzzle? Probably not, but it was a cute idea.
Eucalyptus itself has a similarly playful tone. It might not add up to much, but such harmless tomfoolery beats, say, the oh-so-serious obscurity of Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up. These lines from “Roamer” could serve as an invitation from Tare to lighten up: