Animal Collective – Painting With

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 03 Feb 2016
Album title: Painting With
Artist: Animal Collective
Label: Domino
Release date: 19 Feb

On the face of it, at least, it seems faintly ridiculous to ever use the word ‘stale’ in relation to Animal Collective, given how pointedly they’ve always looked forward, and seldom back, over the course of their career. After 2013’s Centipede Hz, though – which failed to inspire quite like Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion had – there was perhaps a feeling that time out to recharge wouldn’t be a bad thing.

The making of this latest LP, Painting With, sounds as if it was considerably less awkward than its predecessor. With the band regrouping as a three-piece – Josh ‘Deakin’ Dibb sits this one out – they evidently chose to focus on a more primal work.

The Baltimore trio eschew their penchant for extended ambient passages, often complex in construction, and instead choose to focus on simpler pleasures; accordingly, they sound as if they’re having real fun again, from the boisterous bounce of opener FloriDada to the off-kilter strut of Spilling Guts. 

The sheer pace of the record barely lets up; each song imbued with a real urgency. A leaner sound frames typically abstract lyrical preoccupations – with topics as unlikely as dinosaurs, the Ukraine conflict and the USA’s North-South divide making the cut – and Animal Collective still lay down a challenge. It's the sound of a band refreshed.

Playing Manchester Ritz on 13 Apr