Review: Animal Collective - Painting With

Animal Collective: Painting With
6/10


Painting With might be some of the more upbeat and psychedelic Animal Collective we have heard so far, but unfortunately that doesn't guarantee that the music will be exciting. In fact, the trouble with Painting With is exactly in its pushed attempts to be more experimental: heavily reliant on the same idea throughout the entire record, it simply turns bland. The concept itself may not be bad and the songs may sound refreshing on their own – but repeat more or less the same idea for 40 minutes and the intrigue just wears off.

Starting with 'FloriDada', a fun, upbeat track that brought a bit of light to January at its release, the album seems promising, even if not mind-blowing. However, it is no later than during the second track, 'Hocus Pocus', that you start to feel bored. This feeling merely intensifies for the next five songs. There is nothing wrong with the tracks in themselves: the production is good, Avey Tare and Panda Bear's vocals are good. But the longer it goes on, the more it starts to feel like Animal Collective are trying to do something new and different to the point where it sounds forced.

Towards the end, the album starts to develop a little more diversity, even if it is in the form of more old-school Animal Collective: especially 'On Delay' brings to mind the band's earlier treats like 'Almost Frightened'. Of course, Animal Collective are not looking to recreate their old material and while 'On Delay' clearly draws from their previous tracks, it is still an interesting combination of new and old - something the band don't normally do. What's more, it is the first song on the album to truly stand out after 'FloriDada'.

The last two tracks, 'Golden Gal' and 'Recycling', feel less forced than the rest of the record, and still no less interesting. Again, these tracks aren't masterpieces, but they are pleasant to listen to – and in this context, this isn't a negative point. While boring, the rest of the album is, at times, even irritating to listen to, so the final tracks provide a refreshing, calmer sound similar to the likes of Adult Jazz.

Overall, Painting With is not a bad album: it is upbeat and fun, but it is undeniably bland. For a band and an album essentially trying to establish something new and interesting, it is disappointing. While we might spin a few of the tracks in the spring months, the majority of the songs will simply be forgotten – even if fine in their own right, compiled together, they don't stand out and only make for a busy, dulling album.