Animal Collective: Painting With (Domino) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Animal Collective

Painting With


Mar 31, 2016 Animal Collective Bookmark and Share

Animal Collective‘s career is a strange one. There was a time in the very recent past that a new album would have sent a section of the Internetand I dare say it’s a section that would have crossed over heavily with Under the Radar‘s readershipinto a froth of excitement. The strange thing about the reaction to Painting With, the band’s 10th studio album, is not that people are disappointed but that so few seemed to care.

After working tirelessly and making a slight breakthrough into the mainstream with Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009, the follow-up, 2012’s Centipede Hz sounded like a band who decided they weren’t comfortable with a vestige of fame. Painting With, however, is an utterly bizarre and unwelcome new direction. It’s a return to the skittering pop freakout sound that characterised their best work, only this time, it’s impossible to see the appeal.

Painting With is perhaps best described using synaesthesia. It’s the sound of a band ingesting a whole load of cheap, brightly colored plastic toys and vomiting them back up all over a record. The band that used to be so adept at creating a great hook out of a mixsee “Summertime Clothes,” for examplenow just overdub vocals seemingly at random to create a collection of messes without melodies.

“FloriDada,” the lead single and opening track sets the tone. It’s typical Animal Collective in that it’s bright, excitable, and overloaded with synths and clever rhythms. The issue is that the instruments sound cheap, and that’s a problem that repeats throughout. The child-like refrain in the title is deeply irritating and it would be easy to mistake this for a children’s album if it wasn’t so impenetrable. The woozy bass synths of “Hocus Pocus” double down on the cheapness, sounding as they do like the Seinfeld theme on diluted MDMA. “Lying in the Grass” is pretty much the exact same thing only slightly more reminiscent of the novelty Crazy Frog hit from a decade or so ago. Even the best song, the closer “Recycling,” opens with a frenetic clanging that actually forced me to put “The Purple Bottle” on instead to reassure myself they weren’t always this bad.

Animal Collective were once a byword for hipster pretentiousness and as such they were hated by many people who had never really given them a chance. Painting With is by a distance the most annoying album you’ll hear this year, and not just because it sounds exactly how those people imagine the band always has. (

Author rating: 3/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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