This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.
Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
We never expected this to be easy. Animal Collective are one of those bands with cult followings, the kind that can name their top 10 versions of a single song and rattle off a list of top 10 b-sides, let alone their top 10 AnCo songs. But, then again, this isn’t our list of the best Animal Collective songs — In 10 Songs acts as our attempt to give you a portal into their mystical, mythical world.
The band’s catalog spans an insane number of influences, genre touch-points, and themes, so any attempt to narrow them down or define them will be difficult. Plus, they’ll probably just throw in a whole new set of sounds for their next album. But we’ll try to catch you up for now.
Over the course of their history, Animal Collective has meant a few different things — Avey Tare and Panda Bear; Avey, Pandy, and Geologist; and Avey, Pandy, Geologist, and Deakin. We didn’t open the discussion to each of their solo projects, but rather kept things to the heading “Animal Collective,” no matter what that heading happened to mean at the time.
There will be plenty of disagreement with this grouping. But that’s just the nature of Animal Collective; they engender fierce loyalism and intense emotional connection. Check out the list below, and scroll to the end for a playlist of all 10 tracks.
— Adam Kivel