Album Review: Animal Collective - Painting With

12 February 2016 | 11:45 am | Christopher H James

"Their gaze may be focused on several million years BC but there's an evolution of sorts going on."

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It's not often that dinosaurs play a highly influential role in a new album, but then predicting what Animal Collective might do next is usually an exercise in futility.

Painting With was born from immersive 12-hour jamming sessions where images of dinosaurs projected onto the walls in order to conjure that prehistoric feel. Animal Collective's intentions might have been to make something more primitive-sounding, but with the layers of electronic tribal drums and processed instruments the end result is something utterly 21st century, as tracks like Vertical could probably be slipped in between your Hudson Mohawke and Sophie records on a more open-minded dancefloor. Their gaze may be focused on several million years BC but there's an evolution of sorts going on.

It's difficult to deduce whether Animal Collective's heavy use of technology is through choice or reliance, but the synapse-rewiring psychedelia of old is largely absent, mostly as a result of the compressed sound production and thumping kick drums throughout. There are several highs, including the rubbery bass of Hocus Pocus, the hyperactive build of Natural Selection and the swampy riffs of Lying In The Grass, but the bulk of the inspiration is frontloaded into the first six or so songs. While the kaleidoscopic haze of Vertical echoes some of their career highs, Painting With rarely matches their dizzying, optimistic triumphs such as Merriweather Post Pavilion.