One of the most innovative and experimental acts of the 2000s, Animal Collective sample acoustic instruments, droning loops and delicate harmonies to make their own uniquely textured, psychedelic soundscapes. Childhood friends from Baltimore, the lads drew inspiration from Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead and started making their own avant-garde recordings for each other while still at school. On their summer holidays home from university they'd reunite to record together, eventually piecing together debut album Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished (2000); released initially through their own label Paw Tracks. Not afraid to mesh together beat-boxing, electronics and tripped out harmonies, the band built a strong cult following before the critics took notice when seventh record Strawberry Jam (2007) was named album of the year by the Pitchfork website. Its follow-up Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) was acclaimed as their masterpiece, topping Clash magazine, Spin and Entertainment Weekly's end-of-year lists and universally sending the critics into gushing awe. Like mad sonic scientists, the band continue to craft head-spinningly beautiful and eccentric sounds, and by the end of 2010 there were signs that a wider audience were ready to enter their weird and wonderful world.