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Album Review: Animal Collective - Painting With

By Megan Fair, General Manager

[Domino; 2016]

Rating: 3/5

Key Tracks: “FloriDada,” “Lying in the Grass”

Animal Collective has always been the embodiment of whimsy. Tantalizing polyrhythms, hundreds of layers of samples and absurd lyricism marry in a strange polyamorous, polygamist union to gnarl and twist pop melodies and danceable patterns into inventive, boundary breaking music that fans follow religiously.

Painting With, the latest effort of AnCo’s, is a saccharine ride through electro-pulsing indie rock. If you were hoping for something crazy, this isn’t the AnCo record you’re looking for. However, if you were looking for something fun to play while sunbathing on the beach during spring break, this record is definitely for you.

Two of the singles, “FloriDada” and “Lying in the Grass,” shine as stand outs, as they represent what Animal Collective does best on opposite ends of its spectrum. Wild lyrics, choral call-and-response vocals and a dangerously infectious hook make “FloriDada” sound like the perfect soundtrack to a raucous Florida tourism board commercial. “Lying in the Grass” shows that more edgy side--the dual vocals bouncing back and forth with every other word, and the abstract pronunciation of vowel sounds serving as a link to connect the elements of the pulsating tune.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly boundary pushing about this record on the whole. It’s obviously not digestible for everyone, but it doesn’t make a listener squirm. Even the heavily distorted intro vocals of “Vertical” don’t serve any purpose other than to spice up a pretty standard, safe AnCo song. The overall sound aligns itself closely with key band member Panda Bear’s Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, a record that was definitely cool, but already exists.

Is Painting With as an entity particularly memorable? Is it challenging and compelling? Not really. But it’s fun, it’s fine.

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