Will there ever be another band like Animal Collective? The question may sound trite, but it’s impossible to overstate the temporal singularity of what Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), Brian Weitz (Geologist), Dave Portner (Avey Tare), and Josh Dibb (Deakin) have accomplished over the last 20 years of their career. Since emerging from the more outré corners of the NYC music scene in the early 2000s, Animal Collective experienced a steady rise in indie culture — practically reshaping it with every major release up to 2009’s canonical Merriweather Post Pavilion — while remaining totally and utterly inimitable stylistically. Time was you could identify AnCo ripoff acts from a mile away, an irritating trend that only spoke to the mystical influence they held during their arguable creative peak.
In addition to the ten studio albums they’ve released since 2000’s Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, Animal Collective have kept a steady pace by releasing a stream of EPs, live records, and one-off collaborations —not to mention the bounty of solo material the quartet has put out in the interim. Regarding approachability, they have amassed one of the most intimidating discographies of the century so far, recently adding another inscrutable entry (their latest LP, this year’s Tangerine Reef) to their estimable catalogue. If you’re new to the band’s work, it’s hard to figure out what to dive into and what to skip past — and that’s where we come in.
What follows is an extensive ranking of almost every single thing Animal Collective’s members have released, both as a group and solo. We made a few exceptions for the sake of standards: EPs or singles largely featuring remixes and/or not representing substantial releases have been excluded (sorry, Monkey Gone to Burntown), as well as any works that aren’t able to be heard with a simple pair of headphones and a listening device. That second qualifier means that Animal Collective’s “visual album” ODDSAC from 2010 has been excluded, as well as Panda Bear’s A Day With the Homies EP from earlier this year, which was vinyl-only and still hasn’t been made available for streaming services.
35. Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan, Pullhair Rubeye (2007)
There’s a not-terrible album hidden within this collaborative LP from Portner and his then-wife/Múm member Kria Brekkan … you just have to play the record backwards. Yes, I’m being totally serious: after committing these eight songs to tape, the pair decided the album would be more interesting if released with the audio played in reverse, as well as sped up at certain points. To say Pullhair Rubeye is unlistenable is like saying water is hydrating — but as much as it stands as the toughest, least-suitable-for-consumption AnCo-