Animal Collective, “Painting With”
Unlike its Centipede Hz incarnation, the 2016 edition of Animal Collective (Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist along with guest stars Colin Stetson and John Cale) is making blunt, splintered modular synth-filled pop. The distinct lack of reverb and drawn-out, grey, droning passages (that the band is wont to do) on their eleventh full-length gives Painting With the warm, weird, bittersweet feel of 1977 Bowie (think Low) and 1979 Wire (154). Everything explodes at once. Really, the only aimless passage in all of Painting With comes courtesy of Cale on the humming “Hocus Pocus.” There’s no time for moans or drones on this album—just shouts and kicks.
This short, sharp approach brings everything great about Animal Collective into the forefront all at once: the million clattering percussive instruments wriggling throughout “FloriDada” and “Recycling,” the humble lyrical nervousness of Avey Tare and Panda Bear especially on “Natural Selection,” a new found humor on “The Burglars” and “Bagels in Kiev.” Paced quickly, each tune keeps its ardent ability to engage melodically without worrying the listener that a track will trail off like an acid trip gone awry at midnight.