Golden Gal by Animal Collective

Painting With is experimental psych band Animal Collective’s tenth studio LP. This time with a line up that includes Avey Tare(David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), and Geologist (Brian Weitz), Deakin (Josh Dibb) sat this one out recording his own solo album. I’ve been a big fan of the band for awhile, enjoying listening to the evolution of their sound in albums like Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though I’d dug their previous effort Centipede Hz, it was a little cluttered musically and ultimately didn’t hold up to previous efforts from the band. Still, I’m always excited for a new Animal Collective release because they’re a band forever growing, expanding and looking to find something new but still feels true to Animal Collective.

This time around the band was heavily influenced by visual arts and painting whether it’d be dadaism, modern art or cave drawings, hence the title Painting With. You can definitely hear that come out in the music, with a sound crafted by Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist that’s often a collage of squishy, bouncy and fluid sounds that are densely splattered across the mix. Take that and mix it with the eccentric exuberance presented by Animal Collective and you get what is the core what they’re doing on this album. The best and funnest example of this is the albums energetic opener, “Floridada” which describes taking hometown pride a little too far. The album never gets more exciting from the opener, although “Lying On The Grass” comes close with Avey and Panda Bear’s vocals cascading around the track and an equally bouncy groove complete with effects and even a horns coming in. Golden Gal“ is another highlight, the springy, warped track is catchy ode to strong women.

There are influences and flaws in execution on Painting With that keep that album from impressing the way Animal Collective have in the past. Avey Tare and Panda generally the two main songwriters and vocal performers in the group and much like on Centipede Hz Avey dominates this album in both songwriting and performance. The best songs on the album are the ones that he wrote or his vocals take the lead. He brings a level of energy and charisma to songs that’s just winning. Noah Lennox, on the other hand, feels like he’s a songwriting slump and his performances don’t feel nearly as urgent. This is somewhat carried over from Panda Bear’s solo album Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper a project I thought was okay but had tracks that tended to stagnate structurally. This shows up here on tracks like “Spilling Guts” and “Summing The Wretch” where Panda’s vocals has a sort of a choppy staccato delivery and the tracks are generally linear and they really don’t add much to the album. I often look for Panda bring a level of melody and pop sensibility to counterbalance Avey’s vocal eccentricities and I don’t feel it’s here.

Animal Collective were also inspired by bands like the Ramones to make shorter to the point songs and though it sounds like a good idea paper to take the magic of Animal Collective and cram it, I don’t think it works out for the best here. Tracks like “The Burglars” and “Verticals” are nice because the energies there and the sound is intriguing but they miss the mark on some of the more flatter tracks that don’t do much within the 2-3 minute time frame. They’re a band often known to take two different sections of music and fuse it to make a smooth glorious whole and that’s mostly absent from this album. I respect the fact they’re trying new techniques but the boundless wonder of songs like “Applesauce” and “Monkey Riches” is no where to be found here.

All and all, Painting With is a good album but by Animal Collective standards? It’s probably their  worst album in over a decade. An Animal Collective is always a sonic journey and Painting With presents cool sounds but they just never take me anywhere, not this time. 

But you never know what the next album will bring with Animal Collective, so I’ll no doubt be interested in what they do next.

You can find more of Patrick’s writing here


Another wonderful morning in the Portner household. Kria is humming Sasong as she is putting together the finishing touches on her beautiful garden. Dave has just woke up from a long night, now showered and refreshed sitting on his favorite chair reading the daily news. He is stressed about the Animal Collective tour coming up, but is relaxed and comforted as he looks up at his gorgeous wife, who is always there to support him and fulfill his needs. Kria senses his stare and gives a darling smile at her husband, thinking how lucky she is to have him. They keep their gaze and grin affectionately…. They are truly in love. 


Visuals by Leslie

Storyline by Vanessa