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"The Purple Bottle"

Jessica Suarez
Jessica Suarez
2 min read
"The Purple Bottle"

Table of Contents

Animal Collective

(So I want to talk about some shit most people have heard but I still want to talk about.)

Why are songs either about falling in or falling out of love? There are barely any songs that say, “Things are okay if a little boring.�? Just a handful of “I still care,�? songs exist. And why are all of them being written by Low, or worse, Mates of State?

Though there are better (maybe), more complex (possibly) songs on Animal Collective’s Feels than “Purple Bottle,�? the song does accomplish something rare. It races frantically to tell the listener about a girl in a way that’s only the slightest bit touched (tainted?) with lust. It’s not a crush song, it’s not a song about falling in love, but about staying in love, a few months in. Granted it saves a line for naked-praise, but I’m going to overlook that for three paragraphs or so.

Anyway, “The Purple Bottle” begins with rolling pounds on thump drums, but then adds chopstick ticks so nervous they sound like fingernails tapping on a desk. Avey Tare’s voice rushes to keep up with the rhythms, as if his mind is outrunning his vocals in its need to share details while he’s still drunk on them. Sure, there are lines like, “I wear a coat of feelings and they are loud,�? that are revealing to be revealing about being revealing. That’s fine. And there are lines that point to obsessive detailing (“knows her chinese ballet�?), which may work against my argument here.

But more telling are these lines, “ Sometimes I’m quiet / And sometimes you’re quiet / Hallelujah!” The first is the kind of over detail that could be from the beginning of a relationship, sure. But the “hallelujah,�? points elsewhere. The band sighs and stretches out the word, letting the Hallelujah’s many meanings stretch out. Hallelujah’s a special speech act, it’s a word expressing praise and joy, but it also means thanks. Though it might be a stretch to call it performative speech, in this performance you realize that “thank you�? is something that happens after other things have been done, given, shared. In other words, it’s more likely to occur in the middle of a relationship, after a little give and take, and not in the first awkward ‘getting to know all about you’ moments. After all, when you’re pursuing someone or when you’ve first fallen for someone, you have nothing to thank them for, except being naked once in a while.

Bizzy and I were in a bar a couple of months ago, gawking at a dude and girl making out heavily right before last call. They were kissing so intensely that we figured that they must have just met. But then I said, “Holy, shit, what if they’ve been dating for years?�? It was scary, and encouraging too. The question contained the possibility that people really do keep up that kind of enthusiasm years after days of kissing the same person. “The Purple Bottle” contains the possibility that dudes that will still be writing hymns for their girlfriends/wives months or years down the line.