Animal Collective strip away the reverb, hit the accelerator on a delightfully absurd LP
Avant-pop institution Animal Collective have specialized in ecstatic noise explorations for more than a decade. But their 10th album skips the signature escape-pod reverb washes, speeding up the tempos and shortening the song lengths to come up with the zippiest music they’ve ever made. Animal Collective’s core trio recorded Painting With at an L.A. studio once frequented by the likes of Michael Jackson and the Beach Boys, and in a sense the music splits the difference between those poles. The intersecting harmonies of “FloriDada” suggest Pet Sounds sped up to Ramones velocity, and “Natural Selection” features electric viola from John Cale.
The music is as transporting as ever – AnCo’s spastic group vocals remain a thing of nutrageous beauty. The songs just hit liftoff five times faster than ever before, driven hard by Panda Bear’s cartoonishly expressive slapstick-EDM beats. The results are weirdly addictive and enjoyably absurd. “Golden Gal” samples Bea Arthur from an old Golden Girls episode, and “Hocus Pocus” opens with a drive-time traffic reporter informing us we won’t need to worry about seeing any dinosaurs during our morning commute. Good to know – in Animal Collective’s reality, hitting a Piatnitzkysaurus out on the 405 feels totally plausible.