The psychedelic pop group known as Animal Collective released their tenth studio album entitled “Painting With” on Feb. 19 and after nearly a year, the band has come back with a “Painting With” companion extended play (or EP) called “The Painters.” A week prior to the release of the EP Animal Collective announced that they would be playing nearly an hour of new material at a show in Miami called “Coral Orgy.” According to the band’s Instagram, this concept concert sought to celebrate the “groundbreaking scientific work done on coral reproduction” by various non-profit research groups. After the show, the band announced that their new EP would be available the following week.
“The Painters” contains one cover and three original songs that have been performed in tours supporting “Painting With” during the past year. The EP beginning track, and the first single released, is “Kinda Bonkers,” an ode to the endless wonder that the world inspires. The distorted sounds of cars honking as an introduction to the Indian percussion introduces the motif of the song before Avey Tare’s signature voice starts. “Kinda Bonkers” marks a small departure from the overall sound of “Painting With” as a result of the more worldly instrumentation. Tare’s lyrics are playful and digestible, but also challenge the listener. The next track on the EP, “Peacemaker,” makes use of the medieval vocal technique known as hocketing, a linear rhythmic technique in notes and patterns.
While hocketing was used extensively with mixed success in “Painting With,” “Peacemaker” offers a more refined take on the technique. The mirroring voices of Tare and Panda Bear in tandem with the meandering synths set the song in a dream-like state. “Goalkeeper”, the EP’s third track, starts with face-paced and frenetic hocketing in a stark contrast from the calming vocals of “Peacemaker”. “Goalkeeper” is a meditation of the plight of goalies in soccer, lamenting the pressure and selflessness that the position necessitates. Of all the songs on “The Painters”, “Goalkeeper” sounds like it would fit most on “Painting With” as it follows the same pop motifs marked by strong bass synths. The EP closes with a cover of the 1960s hit, “Jimmy Mack”, originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas. Animal Collective puts their trademark spin on the song through Tare’s exasperated warbling and screaming of distorted bass hits. Despite the odd marriage, Animal Collective somehow make this cover work to produce one of the catchier songs in the band’s discography.
As is expected in a companion EP, “The Painters” is sonically very similar to “Painting With.” While “Painting With” was met with mixed critical review, Animal Collective’s new EP sees an improvement to this era in the band. Though the sounds of each work may be comparable, “The Painters” offers a refinement on the poppy instrumentation and vocals of its parent album. The EP is an exceptional expansion of Animal Collective’s music and a release that is worth more than a few listens.
Favorite Tracks: “Kinda Bonkers,” “Goalkeeper”