Boomkat Product Review:
First new Animal Collective album in four years, yielding a harmonious reunion of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin and Geologist with bags of Beach Boys-in-wonderland vocals, Rolling Stones-y blues tonk, and Paddy McAloon-like turns of phrase, all bathed in skin-tingling pop psychedelia
Inarguably one of the bands of their generation, thanks to a peerless run of albums between the early ‘00s and the past decade, Animal Collective have spawned more than enough copycats in the process (i had the misfortune of living above one’s rehearsals), but the effortlessness of their swaying, sunny day arrangements remain practically unsurpassed in their field. ‘Time Skiffs’ reprises the group’s close-knit vocal harmonies and lysergic jangle with an unmistakeable ‘60s twinkle in the eye, strolling and swooning between nine gently restless works that sound as though channelled thru a magick radio dialled to a fractal love-in, and sloshing over at the edges with melody and spunk.
Offered up as “love letters, distress signals, en plein air observations, and relaxation hymns”, the album revolves some of their sharpest pop songwriting, soused in half a century of classics but ultimately distilled to their own magick brew. It’s all one of the most American-sounding records, but smartly in a way that incorporates US rock ’n pop’s double refraction of influence from the UK in a way weirdly unique to Baltimore (think B-more’s early links to UK hardcore, even the strange inflections of their accent - odd even to Americans).
As such we can clearly hear the Stones referenced on the bluesy tonk of ‘Strung With Everything’, and perhaps even nods to the Sprout’s Paddy McAloon or Scritti Politti in the balmier swagger of ‘Cherokee’, or Scott Walker on ‘Royal And Desire’. Yet the optimist spirits of The Beach Boys are still a huge influence everywhere else, just secreted a little more into their own sound, at best in the iridescent bop of ‘Car Keys’, and most explicitly on ‘Prester John’ and the swirling lilt of ‘We Go Back’.