Now, in a neatly eclectic musical pirouette, we spin from finger-pickin’ blues gospel into the electronic rhythms and screaming harmonics of Animal Collective.  Long a fringe act with an alienating-at-first edge to their excellence, it was right around here that Animal Collective hit on the balanced formula that led to mass appeal and mega-success.

Though global notoriety wouldn’t come until the next album, you can already hear the maturation of their sound in Feels and Strawberry Jam.  Both albums are excellent and important, I really can’t recommend then enough, and this song in particular always felt to me like the polished culmination of something they’d been building towards for a long time.

As much as I love them though, I can’t help but add that Fireworks is a great example of how first-draft writing won’t kill a song — far from it — and what an unfortunate disincentive that can be.  While there are a lot of good lines, really, a lot, there are at least an equal amount that are just… bad.  Bad like bad poetry bad.  Honestly, they could’ve titled the song pretty much anything and it would’ve remained fundamentally unchanged.

And really, that’s not the end of the world.  I still love the work, I chose it for the bindle, and I’m sitting here listening and enjoying it all over again as I write about it.  But it is wasted opportunity, and it’s not an isolated incident — if anything, it’s the rule.  For so many songs, after the last note fades, the lingering, frustrating question remains: if it’s already this good…

What could it have been?

“I can’t lift you up, my mind is tired…”

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