Animal Collective can say that they have most assuredly created their own unique musical world. No one can even come close to reinterpreting their sound and their vibe. Maybe t-U-n-E-y-A-r-D-s to some extent, but not to the exuberant extremes that AC do. I think for many Merriweather Post Pavillion was the point at which this Maryland four-piece hit their most accessible and creative peak(it was for me, anyways.) It was the perfect mix of their frenetic electronic gumbo, hallucinogenic vibe, and sweet, harmonious Brian Wilson leanings(courtesy of Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox.) Their 2012 album Centipede HZ felt like one long seizure. More frenetic and exotic than anything they’d ever done. It almost felt like push back against the open and accessible vibe they created in Merriweather. I actually found myself being more intrigued with Mr. Lennox’ trips as Panda Bear more than what Animal Collective were doing. Painting With, Animal Collective’s newest effort finds the band towing that creative line between unrelenting information overload and otherworldly beauty.
“FloriDada” leaves the Ritalin in the medicine cabinet and goes full on ADD with everything but the kitchen sink in use. A mix of manic rhythms and hyperactive vocals flying out from every corner like neon paint-splattered bats coming flying out of every nook and cranny. “Hocus Pocus” could’ve been a leftover from Panda Bear’s beautifully deranged Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper from last year. “Vertical” is pretty mild-mannered for AC, with a nice groove and mantra-like vocals. “Lying In The Grass” has a flowing, liquid-like beat and nice piano line with a touch of horns for good measure. “Natural Selection” almost goes into Devo territory(another band that I feel is in Animal Collective’s DNA.) Album closer “Recycling” is the prettiest song AC have recorded thus far, and sums up I think Animal Collective’s modus operandi which is taking what’s around you in your environment and world and inhaling. Breathing out that air and putting something wholly unique and beautiful back into the universe. AC recycles what they take in and give it back in a new and bizarrely wonderful form.
Animal Collective make music to lose yourself in. It’s very liquid. Very fluid. Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin, and Geologist make up this technicolor brew of acid-burnt, stoner tie-dyers and only they can make this stuff. There’s something magical about what they create, and Painting With is a great reminder of that. This album leans more on the more accessible side of Animal Collective’s musical spectrum. The frenetic nature of Centipede HZ might be under the surface of the sometimes rigid rhythms, but that magical vocal exuberance keeps us well within the ether-laced clouds.