Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks / Avey Tare

Enter the Slasher House

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Horror movies have been a key inspiration for Dave Portner (aka Avey Tare) since he and the group of friends, who would eventually become Animal Collective, met in high school bonding over psychedelic drugs, Pavement, and the gritty dread of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Even in their most blissed-out moments of acoustic acid folk, Animal Collective tempered their joy with more sinister, paranoid undercurrents lifted from the tense atmospheres and disorienting editing of low-budget horror films. It's fitting then that this project takes its namesake directly from those inspirations. However, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, a trio made up of Animal Collective main man Portner, ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, and ex-Dirty Projectors member Angel Deradoorian, buries its psycho killer vibes and masked murderer themes deep beneath shiny pop and unexpectedly catchy hooks. From the synth bubbles that open the album, "A Sender" immediately jumps into bounding rhythms and understated pop chord progressions. Deradoorian's harmony vocals lift Portner's distinctively wobbly melodies out of their murk, elevating the glassy disco push of "Little Fang" into something almost deliberately funky. "Roses Out the Window" also feels uncommonly polished, each segment of its nearly seven minutes fitting into a polite, formal composition, opting for a more direct reading of rock composition than the abstract, protracted textural exploration we're used to from Portner and Animal Collective. Though coming on like nothing more than a weirdly produced indie rock album, the horror movie feel washes over Enter the Slasher House insidiously, foreshadowed by the ominous artwork and title. The band seems to be saying overtly "You do know what you're getting into, right?" and they deliver on unsettling feelings with the gooey processing that drenches almost every instrument and vocal track of every song. The tunes are the most pop thing Portner has turned in since Animal Collective's high-water mark Merriweather Post Pavilion, but they seem knowingly sabotaged with overdoses of flanger, synth processing, and one too many vocal tracks. Even at their most catchy, the songs linger just a little too long, moving from something pleasant and exciting into a creepier place, like a merry-go-round spinning faster and faster into a sickening blur. This is all part of the construction of Enter the Slasher House, and simply the way Portner and company understand pop music. It's overflowing with excitement, optimism, and overwhelming beauty that distract you just enough to disregard the sounds of rustling footsteps behind you growing closer.

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