Painting With is the tenth studio album of experimental pop veterans Animal Collective. Comprising of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Brian Weltz (Geologist) and Deakin (Josh Dibb), the band are another stand out group in the modern day reemergence of psychedelic music. However, if Tame Impala are the more commercially popular and fresher faced champions of modern psychedelia then Animal Collective are the more experienced mages of neo-psych. This in itself has made the group as appreciated as it has found them criticised. Their vast experience and technical ability, while helping them maintain a following that crave their colourful and heavily layered cacophonies, has also found the group derived for their style that can at times feel self-indulgent.
In Painting With, it appears the split opinion of the band will continue. Here, they focus more on producing short, tighter songs rather than recreating their usual immersive soundscapes. From the basic yet still intricate craftsmanship dominating the album, it would seem that simplicity has won over Animal Collective after all these years.
This more simplified yet still hectic variation of their sound, contrasting to previous albums such as the highly acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavillion and much debated Centipede Hz, is introduced in the opening track: ‘FloriDada’. The drums sounds are reasonably straightforward, yet equally manic and up tempo. The multiple synth and vocal loops create a sonic whirlwind which sets up the main dual vocal performances that erratically yet gracefully bounce off one another. Kicking off with an energetic push, this force is maintained through with tracks such as ‘The Burglars’ and ‘Golden Gal’ specifically.
Tracks like ‘Lying in the Grass’ play with multiple rhythms, and walk a self-indulgent tightrope as the songs lead vocal is knowingly broken up courtesy of Panda Bear and Avey Tare playing call and response with syllables, as opposed to phrases.
The album is as inventive and pristinely chaotic as their previous albums but still maintains a battle with indulgence – despite not making use of the more glossy and expansive sound crafting that took albums like Sung Tongs and Merriweather Post Pavillion to the height of neo-psych.