Animal Collective ‘paints’ new album

Posted March 7, 2016


Animal Collective’s newest studio album “Painting With” is just that – a painting. But instead of a physical work, it’s an immaterial hodgepodge of sounds, colors and words, resulting in sheer confusion for the average listener.

But, for Animal Collective followers, the concept isn’t new. The avant-pop band is known to be psychedelic, with many of its music videos displaying a viewer discretion for those with photosensitive epilepsy to warn they might trigger seizures.

“Painting With,” released on Feb. 19, is no different to Animal Collective’s previous works. Its bouncy and, quite honestly, weirdly sounding music serves listeners who have grown to love them over the past decade – the listeners who can be categorized into a post-guitar generation, preferring electronically generated sounds to old-school instruments like pianos, drums or any stringed gadget.

As the band’s 10th studio album, “Painting With” is its first collection of songs since its 2012 album “Centipede Hz.” Though certain bands dramatically change their sound from album to album, Animal Collective stays just as weird. And, when listeners thought it couldn’t get anymore bizarre, “Painting With” was released – a compilation of high-pitched, synth-heavy chants and noises.

Animal Collective’s “Painting With” features three bandmates: Dave Portner, Noah Lennox and Brian Weitz, who veered off into other musical realms during the band’s hiatus. The trio, who began making music in the late 1990s, is responsible for Animal Collective’s 2009 album “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” which is what put the band on the radar of most mainstream listeners, with catchy tunes like “My Girls,” “In the Flowers” and “Summertime Girls.” Josh Dibb, who joined the band for its 2012 album “Centipede Hz” was absent on both “Merriweather Post Pavilion” and “Playing With.”

Though tracks on “Merriweather Post Pavilion” and “Painting With” sound nearly the same, “Playing With” is a disappointment rather than an advancement. What made “Merriweather Post Pavilion” interesting, like striking sounds and eye-catching graphics, is tired and overused in “Playing With.” Avid listeners, who are used to Animal Collective’s kookiness, expected something eccentric with “Playing With.” But, the album sounded more like a continuation of previous works than something new and noteworthy.

The 12-song album, which is grossly made up of obscure, videogame-sounding tracks, does have a few oddly addicting pieces. “FloriDada,” “Golden Gal” and “Lying in the Grass” feature easy-to-sing chants that feed a song’s irresistibility. They’re too easy not to sing along to.

For a band that calls itself “experimental pop/rock,” “Painting With” is just that. It’s experimental in ways most bands wouldn’t dare to be. But, as the band carries a loyal group of followers, it can afford to churn out such outlandish sounds.

Ask an Animal Collective listener if he or she enjoyed “Painting With” and they’ll probably say yes, but not because of its sound. The band represents a refusal to conform to mainstream music. For loyal listeners, the band is a look into the future with a sound never seen or heard on a mainstream stage before.

But, ask a listener who enjoys catchy pop tunes or classic hard rock, and he or she will probably be left confused as to what “Painting With” really is. Is it music, a video game or a malfunction in a child’s electronic toy?

  • Artist: Animal Collective
  • Album: “Painting With”
  • Producer: EastWest Studios
  • Label: Domino
  • Release Date: Feb. 19, 2016
  • Band Members: David Portner, Noah Lennox, Brian Weitz
  • Featured Artists: John Cale, Colin Stetson
  • Price: $9.99 for regular album download on iTunes, $11.19 on Amazon, $18.99 for a Vinyl version on Amazon, $8.99 at Best Buy
  • Reviewer Rating: 2 out of 5 stars