Review Summary: Kinda boring, kinda fun, kinda okay.
The boys in Animal Collective simply can’t resist toying with their synthesizers it seems. Last year’s Painting With
was a return to the trio of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist, and in turn, a logical departure from the density of 2012’s Centipede Hz
. Replete with belching synths, breakneck vocal exchanges between Avey and Panda and all tied together by Geo’s use of samples, Painting With
was an effort that was intended as their “pop” record, complete with fast-paced songs that took listeners along for the ride that was
at times fun. At other times, it was more grating than gratifying and resulted in an experience that was sorely lacking in depth; an album which had a mildly intriguing concept, yet was flawed due to its reluctance to offer much variety in favor of going for the accessible pop song aesthetic. Approaching the Collective’s companion EP to their most recent studio effort, The Painters
continues the band’s aim of making short, accessible (and fun, nonetheless) songs, but opts to offer moments of variety as well.
A band that constantly changes, it only seems perfect that they went with a name like “The Painters” for their music. The Painters
makes use of a proposed band name from the recording sessions of Painting With
and brings about nostalgic thoughts of the days when the Collective weren’t exactly
the Collective yet and released bizarre noise pop and freak folk albums every other year under names such as “Campfire Songs” and so on. A decade (closing in on two, if we go back to Spirit They’re Gone…
) since their more “weird” works, the Collective have gone through so many changes, it’s a wonder they’ve stuck with their current moniker for so long, yet it’s far easier to associate all these changes under the Collective umbrella in the long run.
for the most part is quite certainly an Animal Collective record, featuring bright vocals, pulsating rhythms and an everlasting aptitude for densely-produced compositions. While it retains the blueprint of its companion album, The Painters
introduces refreshing tracks such as the soothing “Peacemaker”, which eschews the speed of the Painting With
-era compositions while keeping the hocketing style of singing that dominated the album. Works such as the opener “Kinda Bonkers” aims for a relaxed vibe, again greatly contrasting from the formula of the band’s current repertoire. The latter half of this incredibly brief EP returns to the uptempo sound of its predecessor with the middling “Goalkeeper” and a cover of the classic Martha and the Vandellas joint “Jimmy Mack”, which ultimately achieves the idea the band had in mind while producing Painting With
by creating a fast and
fun pop song, all without the obnoxiousness that plagued several songs of that record. The Painters
as a whole ranges from incredibly average on one end (“Kinda Bonkers”, “Goalkeeper”) to what is perhaps some of the most entertaining songs the band have put out in years (“Peacekeeper”, “Jimmy Mack”) – and for that, it’s safe to say the boys in Animal Collective are slowly getting back on track after what was perhaps one of their weakest efforts. Now only if they could wean themselves off those synths.