Animal Collective’s Painting With…

A summer album released in the middle of winter, the bright tones and short song constructions present the band’s most accessible album to date. Animal Collective’s tenth studio album, Painting With, is the ‘punchy’ pop album my girlfriend still wouldn’t listen to.

Painting With is written by Avery Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), and Geologist (Brian Weitz). Deakin (Josh Dibb) is again absent, despite rejoining the Collective’s lineup for Centipede Hz in 2012. The album was written in LA’s EastWest Studios’ Studio 3, the same room where Brian Wilson constructed Pet Sounds and Smile. Perhaps this is why the album seems laced with surfer synths and beach-bound vibes.

“FloriDada,” the album’s opening song, establishes the strange, absurdist reality in which the remaining songs are set. Like a shot from the circus cannon, the infectious, bounce-pop beat paints with a fluorescent palate. With layered synths, catchy drum loops, and sound artifacts from an 8-bit-era, each track is meticulously constructed, delivering 12 frenzied movements for an unexpected party album.

Yet the album lacks the innovative elements expected from the prodigious band. Distinctly new for AC, the overall tone feels derivative. Madrigal-like vocals and cacophonous textures remain true to the Collective’s core sonic identity; whereas, songs like “Vertical” and “The Burglars” feel oddly familiar (Of Montreal’s Sunlandic Twins (2005) comes to mind) and wash out against the symphonic soundscape.

A few exciting guest appearances for those enamored with minimalist compositions come from John Cale and Colin Stetson, who lend their instruments to “Hocus Pocus” and “Lying in the Grass,” respectively.

“Golden Gal” and “Recycling” present the album’s most exciting selections. Each weaves an eclectic narrative among a variety of samples and sounds to leave even the most ardent fan hopeful for the next AC outing.