While writing this review, I’ve realized that the album isn’t emotional in the slightest, rather, Painting With is Animal Collective’s delusional, overly-introverted artsy ego attempting to bench 500 pounds. Does it work? In a lot of ways, yes. Is it welcoming to longtime fans? Hardly.
The primary influence in the production of Animal Collective’s Painting With comes from synthesizer guru Panda Bear. The contrast is in the old school sounds: the 808s and 8-bit-style retro-grime patches that make the songs more condensed than spacious.
Normally a Band-Aid-covered patch of their abilities, the vocal melodies show a significant amount of musical maturity from previous releases: less bubblegum pop-sensible but more flexible and adventurous. The construction of these tracks is very heavy-handed, with Hocus Pocus and The Burglars presenting layered, rhythmically-dense vocal passages. These particular songs feel tightly-packed to the brim; a skill set most notably achieved by the rapid-fire rap duo Run The Jewels.
What I miss in this album, however, is the loud, transcending atmospheres that Animal Collective is so famous for curating. Songs like My Girls and For Reverend Greenthat seem to endlessly circle about in a shamelessly exuberant campfire chant are what sparked my cult following of the group. My second favorite type of Animal Collective songs are the emotionally-disjointed, ballad-esque counterparts of their discography like Cuckoo Cuckoo and Banshee Beat. Both of these stylistic structures are more invested in the emotional experience than the artsy beeps and bops, and I think that’s where the majority of Animal Collective fans sit.
Don’t get too frustrated with Painting With. After all, it is an album about Dadaism J I admittedly haven’t even begun deciphering these lyrics – that will be another project in itself.
I’m extremely frustrated with the criticism that Animal Collective’s 11th studio album is receiving. Painting With is phenomenal contrary to the amount of overzealous comments publications have made. Pitchfork referred to Painting With as a ride, but I view Animals Collective’s 11th studio album as an explosion of inner thoughts, emotions and frustrations this trio has been experiencing during their respective side projects. Thus, Painting With is a cluster of those frustrations laid out more carefully than any album Animal Collective has ever released.
There’s a lot of fun sampling on this record. Tracks like Golden Gal, Lying in the Grass and Hocus Pocus have various samples that are directed to a very specific audience.
With these samples are a lot of intricate chord progressions which are layered by echoing vocals. These progressions are showcasing the growth of Noah Lennox from his side project Panda Bear.
The lyrical content on Painting With is incredible nonetheless. For example, the pop-oriented single “FloriDada” is written beautifully.
What’s the best place
That you have seen
all of the hands That you have shook
Home of the queen of everything fancy
Is there a smell
That you can tell
gives you some peace
sends you to hell
all of the beds
That you have yearned
These lyrics are hard to comprehend your first few listens. The production is layering itself endlessly which makes the lyrical content a little hard to swallow. If you give this album some time these lyrics will be viewed as an easter egg. A carefully colored shell forgetting the frailty and utter confusion that delegates the core of Dadaism in Painting With.
Although the production layers itself endlessly, the production is clean. A lot of time was put into this record. I haven’t heard this clean of a record with complex and intriguing chord progressions since Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead.
Despite criticism, this album is a fantastic redemption from Animal Collective’s Centipede Hz. The growth and continuity and Animal Collective is as vibrant and exciting as their album Merriweather Post Pavilion. Although some can say Painting With isn’t as robust and aggressive as past works the intensity is as high of stakes as any record this trio has made in the past 15 years.
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