Animal Collective – Painting With

Release Date: 2/19/2016 via Domino

Stars: 5/7

17 years. 17 years ago Spongebob Squarepants aired for the first time on national television (Pluto was also reinstated as the outermost planet). Coincidentally, 17 years ago, David Portner, Noah Lennox, Josh Dibb, and Brian Weitz formed a psychedelic, experimental bond with the release of Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished. Each member eventually took on a moniker, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist respectively. The four intertwined in and out of each others lives throughout the ensuing years, but always found a way back through the music. Using the four separate names in place of a singular band name wouldn’t be marketable (thanks corporate America), finally conceiving Animal Collective with the release of Here Comes the Indian. Nine albums, seven EPs, three live albums and one visual album later Painting With enters the picture. Point being, 17 years’ averages about a sixth of the average person’s lifespan, evolution throughout that period is inevitable.

Animal teased the released with some singles and an application snippets of songs could be heard while playing. Since the full rollout, I’ve had many discussions concerning the album, most who oppose the album fall into two general categories. Either they wished the album reverted to the weirdness of Sung Tongs or they wished Animal simply put out Merriweather Post-Pavilion 2.

Addressing the first dissension, Avey, Panda, Deakin and Geologist are no longer the 20 years olds contemplating the difficulties of growing up, being in strange transitionary places, or experimenting with LSD for the first times. Songs like “College”, “Penny Dreadfuls” and “The Living Toys” don’t seem fitting. One of the main themes behind AC’s sound is experimentation and pushing the envelope on how things should sound. They’ve long stated jam bands heavily influenced the way the performed (Just listen to “What Would I Want? Sky” for proof) only using electronics instead of traditional instruments. However, in a recent SPIN article, Geologist talks about touring so much on Merriweather he eventually knew how each member’s improvisations would unfold throughout, leading to creative boredom. Addressing the later argument would be foolish because an attempt to recreate an album a second time typically leads to failure.

Painting With went into a new direction for AC, a far more accessible direction. The tracks “Golden Gal” and “Natural Selection” show an evolution (or mutation in Animal terms) towards experimental pop instead of their traditional experimental psych rock/freak folk/lo-fi noise. They’re all in great places in their lives and Painting With exemplifies the sentiment through playful synth-pop and quirky background noise seeming to come from a Bop-It toy. The album’s first single “FloriDada” hints towards the direction they headed in. The lyrics “A bridge that someone’s fighting over/ A bridge that someone’s paying for/ A bridge so old so let it go” creates the metaphor about the past (or borders) and how different individuals deal with the bridges they’ve formed in life. The last part symbolizes some of the band’s feelings towards their music, they want to let some of periods go and just be.

If you have doubts towards the album, try and see Animal play it live and all of the doubts will vanish. Seeing how they could incorporate “Daily Routine” into “Jimmy Mack”, a Martha Reeves cover, from “On Delay” will put the biggest critic to rest.

Key Tracks:

“Natural Selection” “The Burglars” “Vertical” “Golden Gal”