Weird inspirations make new AnCo album an audible delight

Cindy Hernandez/Contributing Writer

On Animal Collective’s tenth album, “Painting With,” the gang minus Deakin explores some of the softness of their predecessors in psychedelic pop, using a canvas of melody, fun and gentle playfulness to establish what could be their safest album yet. Even with the help of collaborators like John Cale, an early founding member of The Velvet Underground and a focus on limitation, the product is friendly, but not bad or boring.

A lot of this stems from the lack of tactics that pull listeners into a noise pop state, like drone or reverb. Catchy percussion and modular synthesizers dominate the project with a focus on primeval desires and the most basic pleasures of human desire. You can see this off their first single and lead song, ‘FloriDaDa,’ which samples surf rock classic ‘Misirlou,’ and rides the wave off of bands inspired by Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. Ironically enough, they’re headlining with Brian Wilson at Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas.

The chopped up effects on “Hocus Pocus” are less hypnotizing in an enchanting way, ala Beach House, but in the way we might make a bad haunted house for Halloween. There is a level of childish glory in the lyrics, and they’re highly aware of it. ‘Vertical,’ the bridge repeating, “You hear the pressure dropping,” as it transitions to the skillful, ‘Lying in The Grass.’. This song is reminiscent of earlier AnCo on “Merriweather Post Pavillon,” using the same bouncy synth as ‘Lion in A Coma,’ but much less manic and more melodic; soothing, perhaps even a bit sleepy.

My favorite track, “The Burglars,” reminds me why Avey Tare is my favorite member of Animal Collective. His manic approach to songwriting emphasizes the strengths of the instruments used. The stretch of the word “burglars,” along with the harsh snare drum against the glitchy, chip tune, the backing track shoves their psychedelic sound into a digital era unaffected by their earlier inspirations of nature, love, and the world around them.

It’s almost as if the band “burglarized” other forms of electronic music and it works amazingly. The following track ‘Natural Selection works similarly, with swirly lyrics. The songs on this album are incredibly short compared to some of the long, drawn out, sometimes ambient, beautiful tracks off of earlier albums like ‘Feels’ or ‘Strawberry Jam.’

The world of leisure is even more prominent on the track, ‘Bagels in Kiev,’ a song about eating bagels with your grandfather in Kiev. Really. The literalness of this album and its casualness about such topics as family and love come off as a little awkward at best, but leave me desiring the heavy reflections on what it means to love your partner off of “Merriweather Post Pavillon.

On the track, ‘On Delay,’ we get a sudden change in tone I find even more uncomfortable, with the faded sound of police and ambulance sirens turned into a haunting female backing vocal, and being followed by the throwaway track ‘Spilling Guts,’ I grow more confused on what positivity the album was attempting to do. ‘Summing the Wretch’ brings us back to the strength and bounciness of ‘FloriDaDa,’ but in nowhere near as compelling.

Then again, Florida is a huge enough theme to inspire a song that both is inspired and sample “The Golden Girls,” television show on ‘Golden Gal,’ their girl power track. It’s the best example of the melodic range of Panda Bear and Avey Tare’s vocals. The last track, ‘Recycling,’ quite aptly, seems to take every part of the other songs on the album and mix it into something unmemorable.

It almost seems as if to gratify fans after the release of their polarizing “Centipede Hz,” Animal Collective decided to ditch what is their great formula of soundscapes that explore different emotions all on one track and opted for fun fodder.

However, as much as it feels like effort was put in, I don’t think I’ll ever hear another album that requires me to get happy and realize that I should mature with a band emotionally as well. Perhaps rage, lust and moods weren’t on their minds anymore. Somehow, it was weird Floridians and the Golden Girls.

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