Review Summary: Animal Collective channel the wonder of their acoustic era in a Record Store Day fan pleaser.
One of the joys of being an Animal Collective fan is the grand narrative that ties their music together. Their aesthetic is chameleonic: figuring out how each shift marks a new stage of life for the band is a continuous pleasure. The conversation became a tad self-serving from Centipede Hz
onwards: “Animal Collective lost their magic” is now a common expression of disappointment. That all came to a head with the adjacent releases of Painting With
and Sleep Cycle
: the former became a symbol of their cerebral detachment while the latter represented the warmth and ease of connection they’ve “now lost.” Meeting of the Waters
disrupts that flippant narrative: don’t doubt us. Here’s the acoustic magic we’ve neglected in pursuit of new skins. You’re safe now.
“Blue Noses” embraces with a swell of hypnotic strums: it’s a Campfire Songs
throwback, yet peppered with psychedelic ambiance that teases the ear. The mood is comforting yet slightly ominous: I can hear Here Comes the Indian
in how sound effects are deployed to conjure the scene, yet the field recordings are cleaner and richer. “Amazonawana/Anaconda Opportunity” is content to sprawl about, patchwork segments forming a mystifying whole. Avey’s singing takes center stage on the other songs and he sounds amazing. The introspection of Sleep Cycle
has rubbed off on him: he strikes a meditative tone in these deep forest gems, drawing the listener closer to the embers. “Man of Oil” has a wonderful vocal hook, pulling the song out of obscurity. He’s more content to bask on the closer, murmurs leading the listener to a “bad trip” climax of startling samples and warbled sounds.
It’s all engaging songwriting, and playing spot-the-throwback is a fun time. Fans will likely dub Meeting of the Waters
their best release this decade but I’m hesitant to echo that claim. It’s a crowd pleaser rather than a boundary pusher -- I’m more curious about the “failed” experiments than the smooth-sailing here. Regardless, it’s a great release that interrupts the negative narrative bearing down on the band, cleansing the palette from what they’ve painted with in preparation for the next design.