Following 2016’s Painting With, the psychedelic pop outfit Animal Collective have returned with an equally disorienting and kaleidoscopic journey through experimental pop, albeit shorter – the companion EP, The Painters. This new release follows in the footsteps of their latest album, but even though they’re obviously offcuts and b-sides, none of these tracks are less refined or musically uninteresting. In some cases, this new assortment of tracks often outshines Painting With’s weaker moments.
Kinda Bonkers is exactly what the name implies – its their signature (but far from cliche) unnatural psychedelia, but at the same time, its somewhat restrained and subdued as well. Within seconds, it ticks all the boxes for a great Animal Collective track: Absurdist lyrics? Check. Warped vocal harmonies? Check. Bouncy acoustic percussion? Check that box too. Peacemaker takes after a similar vein, but more minimal and glossy. Animal Collective take after a Beach Boys-esque sound, although less surf and more electronica. Vocal harmonies are twisted and warped atop layers of synthesizer bliss; the beautiful sound of their pseudo-chillwave art pop delights.
Goalkeeper is another track where the interplay between vocals and synthesizers work wonders – there’s barely a moment of escape on The Painters, with something always swaying or a sound constantly ebbing and flowing. Jimmy Mack takes this lushness to new extremes, a cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ classic soul hit that Animal Collective revitalize and completely reinvent. Especially in the desperate vocal cries of the chorus, there’s so much energy put into this performance – it’s colourful, vibrant, and embodies the typical Animal Collective mantra of forward moving psychedelia hot messes.
Animal Collective continue to stun, and this new selection of tracks feels like more of the wonderful same everyone loved on Painting With. The Painters EP is a much needed blast of their atypical art pop that audiences need to satiate themselves on the wait for their next full length project.