Animal Collective are back again! What strange areas have they wandered into this time around? The answer seems to be less harsh, but similarly frantic territory to Centipede Hz, though with a particular focus on shorter, faster songs. CD, LP and deluxe LP edition (that last one includes a psychedelic zoetrope-style slipmat), with the possibility of 3 different covers.
- LP £21.99
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- WIGLP362X / Limited Deluxe Edition 180g vinyl LP on Domino. Includes zoetropic turntable slipmat
6 reviews. Add your own review.
This album is like mashed potato. Really good mashed potato. That your favourite band made. But they didn’t serve it with anything. And instead they threw it at your face. For forty minutes. And Domino laughed. And they recorded the whole thing. And the thing is that it really is your favourite mash ever, but now that mash goes on tour and you don’t even care because you can’t eat the mash, it just keeps landing on your face, around the ears and occasionally the eyes. And then one day Avey Tare just straight up admits to you he doesn’t even have a masher. He’s just been using standard cutlery to mash the potatoes. And Panda Bear’s like dude don’t worry I’ve got twenty mashers right here. And they talk about the process of the mash on an interview with Pitchfork, though weirdly, the whole accompanying photoshoot is themed around eggs.
I learned to make mash a couple of weeks ago; I like “Vertical”. I think that song is some cascading pop magic, doing a very welcome AnCo thing indeed: serving up a disorientating vocal bleat before opening up onto a gorgeously clear melody, one so thorough its lyric is almost onomatopoeic -- “We can cross the parking lot”, the team hum as if they’re slotting their car perfectly into space after a few moments of searching. I think “FloriDada” is absolutely wonderful, whether it sounds like a children’s TV show or not: it goes toe to toe with “Moonjock” for euphoric opener, with Avey and Panda interrupting and accompanying over the most audacious arrangements -- gloopy synths, peachy drumbeats and the dreadful but joyous clown laughter that accounts for the song’s bridge. The rest of the album? It sounds like Panda Bear didn’t do his homework, snatched a few ‘Grim Reaper’ sketches off of his laptop and handed them to Avey Tare, who, let’s be real, will believe in anything. Panda's vintage vox wooze is all over this thing, to a degree so self-parodying I feel like AnCo are pointing and laughing at me.
Deakin is off making his solo album, Geologist is letting the vocal sample tirades go by without a vetting, and this album has become the strangest of Animal Collective things: much of a muchness. Which isn’t to say they fucked up; they wanted to be like the Ramones, and they kinda got their wish. Moments of wonder open up after further listens, but little that contributes to good vibes: you can hear Colin Stetson’s sax blow through the backdrop of “Lying In the Grass”, but it’s used flippantly, almost as an afterthought to their Actual Intended Goal of homogeneity. Most interestingly, though, is the production: it sounds squashed, as if digging holes in the fields opened on 'Merriweather', covering our ears with the mud played in on 'Centipede Hz'.
This may prove the biggest barrier to break down with the record, and maybe it'll happen -- I’ve given this thing a good ten listens and I’ll keep listening to it until it clicks. I can feel myself warming to it right now, but at the time of writing this is a tragically low card in a rather lovely discography.
Well, this is something! Brand new Animal Collective! I have to confess something of a love/hate relationship with this band; I find they can be wilfully quirky and a bit too jolly for me. But, hey, you can’t like everything…
It all starts lively enough on “FloriDada” with its very pre-programmed electronic drum machine which pulses and jumps all over the place. Kind of business as usual, then. The very repetitive chorus does become annoying… very annoying. After about 2 minutes, and it lasts 4 minutes. Next… “Hocus Pocus”. Spoken word US drive time radio-style announcement as an intro, “…no dinosaurs to worry about!” Like I said, quirky. The track plods along with more stereo-panned assorted bonkers noises and something approaching a melody. Then another melody on top of that one. You get the picture. It fades out and straight into “Vertical” which reminds me a bit of boom bip or prefuse 73, which is no bad thing. Some repeated lyric about a “parking lot.”
Squelchy synth introduces “Lying in the Grass” and there is a muted plunky plonk piano and maybe an oboe and other squeaky woodwind sounds panning all over the shop. Next! “The Burglars”; rapid-fire vocals and many layers of electronics. Again. But I quite like this one. “Natural Selection” is another very fast paced track. It’s a BIT Like Django Django on speed. We’re only half-way through….
“Bagels in Kiev”. I’d prefer doughnuts in Wakefield. With a nice mug of Yorkshire Tea. I can’t help thinking this would be easier to listen to on half speed. But then I like my tunes a bit less hectic. Nice melodies here though. The track develops into a joyful hum-along. Hmm. This album is growing on me; I think that’s the typical A/C M.O. It’s also a short tune and the only one so far that’s finished leaving me wanting more.
This album would be so much better if they jettisoned a layer or two. Less, you know, is more. No, really.
8/10 Greg Customer review, 17th February 2017
Much like their back catalogue, experimentation is pretty much the norm for Animal Collective. On Painting With, their tenth album, the trio of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist have chosen to go for the straightforward route by eliminating the reverb effects and drawn-out musical passages from the past, and have come up with their most accessible work to date. While it’s far from their masterstroke (2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion), it shows the trio at their brightest and at their most energetic to date.
7/10 Calum Customer review, 11th February 2016
Animal Collective’s latest effort, ‘Painting With’, first graced the ears of the public playing on a loop through the tannoy at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. That in itself will probably give you some idea of the band’s kooky ideas that are echoed throughout the album.
FloriDada give a pretty up-tempo start to the album with a pumping 4 to the floor kick drum and some acidy squelches, seemingly an ode to the state in the USA where most of the country’s retirees go to end their days. Not sure if I can imagine the nation’s pensioners listening to ‘Painting With’, but that’s neither here nor there. The distorted vocals at the start of third track, Vertical, leave me feeling not so much vertical but more twisted on multiple planes. The song then develops into a pleasant head-bopper with parrot-esque backing vocals and grooving drums.
I was naturally drawn to track 7, ‘Bagels in Kiev’, because I like bagels. Who doesn’t? I was rewarded for my interest in ring shaped dough products as the bassline is pretty infectious. There are a hell of a lot of lyrics to take in during the verse so multiple listens may be required to catch everything. Something about Granny and Grampa… At two and a half minutes in length though, it’s a nice little ditty in the middle of the album.
Overall ‘Painting With’ is a truly mental album with a lot of complicated chord changes and driving rhythms. I would imagine it’s one of those albums that gets better with every listen. Yep, it’s that ol’ chestnut again. Definitely one of those when you are feeling mentally sound and don’t need any more confusion in your life.
6/10 Jonny Customer review, 10th February 2016
The new Animal Collective record “Painting With” harks back to their more poppy past, in particular feeling reminiscent of “Merryweather Post Pavillion” in parts, and “Feels” in other parts. It is their most accessible work since MPP, although my least favourite for that very reason, almost seeking to intentionally distance itself from the surrealism of recent releases Centipede Hz and the ODDSAC visual album.
Lead single “FloriDada” offers their now trademark Beach Boys style pop music, full of lush warm analogue synth patterns and beautifully layered vocal harmonies, an almost perfect representation of their poppy side, my only criticism is that it’s very similar to previous work of theirs rather than breaking any new ground, which is what I have come to expect from Animal Collective.
Next song Hocus Pocus is quite reminiscent of some songs from the most recent MGMT album, filled with jumpily edited vocals and a minimal driving beat throughout, although I would say the result is far better than when MGMT tried it. This same feeling continues into Vertical, although there is an almost hip hop feel to the beat, but it still has all the familiar Animal Colllective elements. This same feeling continues into Lying in the Grass, minimal pop really is the best way to describe these last 3 songs, a stark contrast to the over the top bright colours feeling from FloriDada.
The Burglars comes next and brings back some of the upbeat feel from the start of the album, although never fully reaching it’s heights, I feel as though this song could have been the best on the album but it never quite achieved what it was aiming for, it just continues at the same level from start to finish where it could have been an incredible long build up to something. Natural Selection and Bagels in Kiev continue this theme of never quite reaching a peak, it is disappointing that a group which is normally so sonically exciting made something that feels quite flat compared to previous work, it almost feels as if they were purposefully restraining themselves at this point in the album.
The rest of the album is better than that last section, but again it just feels like it’s trying to recapture the magic of the Merryweather Post Pavillion era of the band. Particular highlights of the second half of the album are On Delay and Summing the Wretch, in that they do capture the sound they seemed to be aiming for perfectly, but as I previously mentioned this isn’t what I would have liked them to do with the album.
Overall the album isn’t bad, it’s just not what an Animal Collective album should be, with every release so far they’ve broken new ground and pushed their sound further, and it feels like this time they’ve regressed. For any other group I’m sure this would be a great album, but for Animal Collective it’s a step back, the only time they try and dark material it falls flat and feels quite boring. If you like Merryweather Post Pavillion, as I do, you will enjoy parts of the album, as there is a quite nostalgic sense in the songs that are similar to those found on that record, but if you like Animal Collective for their boundary pushing, more abstract work, this album will leave you wanting. Although I’m sure that with repeated listens I could look past the flaws and enjoy the album for what it is, a good recapturing of the bands most accessible sound.
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- Painting With by Animal Collective
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