You'd think that by toning down the majority of their freakier elements and streamlining their sound into a pretty straightforward pop mold that Animal Collective would have become less essential. I mean, after a quintet of albums that were as dissimilar to each other as anything yet were distinctly their product nonetheless, ranging in sound from near-ambient pop to freak-folk to noise-pop to experimental sound-fuckery, the last thing you'd have expected them to do next was become the accessible indie-pop juggernaut that Feels paints them as. Especially coming off the half folky half pointless experimental wankery that was Sung Tongs, easily their most widely praised album at the time it seemed downright weird that they'd abandon almost all of that style and focus so intently on making this lush, only slightly experimental, capital-P pop music. I'm certainly not complaining though; Feels is easily the one Animal Collective related album that I love almost unreservedly, their most consistent, most enthralling and most fun 50 or so minutes ever put to record.
(more later, word of advice: working retail during the xmas season cuts down on time for this type of thing considerably)