Animal Collective – Painting With (Album Review)

Coming from the city of Baltimore, Maryland, Experimental Pop band Animal Collective are truly a unique musical project. Formed back in 1999, the band now consists of David Portner, aka Avey Tare (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, sequencer, keys, piano, percussion, autoharp); Brian Weitz, aka Geologist (electronics, samples, minidiscs, vocals, synthesizer, piano, percussion); and Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear (vocals, percussion, samples, synthesizer, electronics, guitar). As a unit, they combine an unusual mix of Folk, Rock, Psychedelic, and even ambient noise that has gained recognition. Creating a truly trippy vibe for listeners, vocals, guitar, synthesizer, piano, percussion, name it, they all play it.

Begun with their 2000 debut album, Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, since that time, they have released eight more albums, including their most internationally successful in 2009, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Now in 2016, they return with a new collection of songs in the form of their tenth studio album, Painting With. The new album released February 19th via Domino and features three different album covers featuring each Animal Collective member, which were painted by Brian DeGraw. A compelling brand of Psychedelic Pop, Painting With is sure to turn many heads with its exceptionally cinematic sound.

Opening with lead single that features an out-of-this-world music video, “FloridaDada” is a shock to the system as it kicks the mood into a high-octane power trip. There is so much going on in the song, listeners will not know where to focus and it becomes a total mind game. The following song title, “Hocus Pocus,” lends a hand to the total sound. Slower than the previous, and less manic, it still contributes the same brain-bending sound, like a spell. Then “Vertical” continues the slow trance, but also plays around with new, fresh, unique sounds. Those who ever thought they did not need a didgeridoo sound to kick off a song, then they were misinformed because “Lying in the Grass” uses the instrument creating an irresistible beat throughout. A single, the song was first offered to listeners via the release of a Painting With app for iOS back on January 28th.

Moving the album right along, “The Burglars” starts sounding like an old school ’70s Rock song, almost in the vein of The Beatles before settling back into their usual crazy trip. The cut “Bagel in Kiev” comes next and it is a bit confusing lyrically, being legitimately about bagels, but once listened to two or three times, the bagels actually have a story to tell. Yes, this is how trippy this album gets, where the audience can understand a bagel. Those who wanted to live in a slot machine, the start to “On Delay” would be home. Probably the second more simplistic song on the album, it only uses four or five different samples, beats, and ambient noises, but it works very effectively.

The shortest track on Painting With is “Spilling Guts” and it is an odd break from the mania with its less complex use of one or two sounds to keep the beat going strong. Then, dropping the audience back into usual crazed vibes, “Summing the Wretch,” with a tropical style beat that is matched by uneven vocals, will make the listener feel like they are lost in a Caribbean dream. Opening with a clip of Bea Arthur of The Golden Girls series, “Golden Gal” could be one of the best tracks off Painting With. One of the three singles released prior to the album, it combines synth with more smooth vocals that will immediately grab the audience. Concluding the psychedelic ride, “Recycling” features quirks and interesting use of instruments, but also keeps a more somber tone for the final track. In all, it keeps with the theme held throughout the album, one which is impossible to pigeonhole into a category.

Painting With is a very interesting album to say the least. It has so many layers involved that some fans may need to listen to it multiple times before really grasp everything they are hearing. In fact, do not be surprised to listen to a song once, playing it again, and hearing completely different elements. It is fun, odd, intriguing, and that is why CrypticRock gives Painting With 4 out of 5 stars.


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