"Overall the album has the feel of a commissioned piece that the band's hearts were only ever half into."
Tangerine Reef is an audiovisual collaboration with Coral Morphologic to celebrate 2018 being the International Year of the Reef. Regrettably though, the left-field, sometimes loopy, pop sensibilities of regular Animal Collective member Panda Bear are absent.
Each track on Tangerine Reef is awash with trippy drones that ebb and flow to give an impression of an underwater environment where light and sound travel differently. Buxom in particular opens with all sorts of warped, aquarium-inspired weirdness together with some severely mashed vocals — something of a recurring feature on this album, especially on the disorientating Airpipe (To A New Transition). This album may be evidence that the ocean is not an environment suited to most animals as it often sounds as if wobbliness and seasickness were key influences.
Tangerine Reef is not the best example of Animal Collective's songcraft as most of the vocal parts sound tacked on or made up on the spot, contributing to the overall impression of slapdash workmanship. Overall the album has the feel of a commissioned piece that the band's hearts were only ever half into. Ultimately, you have to wonder whether there's a subtle clue in the title to Coral By Numbers.