Album Review: Animal Collective—“The Painters EP”

By Harry Myles, Feature Photo via AXS

Nearly a year after the release of 2016’s chaotic Painting With, experimental pop trio Animal Collective are back with a companion piece, The Painters EP. Released on February 17, 2017, The Painters is Animal Collective’s eighth EP and the first since 2013’s Monkey Been to Burn Town. The extended play features a selection of three original songs and a cover of “Jimmy Mack” by Martha and the Vandellas. The same cast from Painting With returns for this latest release, including Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Avey Tare (David Portner), Geologist (Brian Weitz), but still noDeakin (Josh Dibb).

You can see the sonic similarities when you listen to Painting With and The Painters EP back to back. “Peacemaker,” from the  The Painters, maintains the downtempo composure of Painting With’s “Lying in the Grass” while “Goalkeeper” provides a spark of energy reminiscent of 2016’s hit “FloriDada”. Does The Painters EP explore a new sound for Animal Collective? Not quite. Does it build upon the zany collection of chaos created in Painting With? Definitely. The Painters EP is simply a playful companion to last year’s studio album, continuing with its predecessor’s flavourful synth and yawning beats,albeit with a little more composure.

While Painting With contained a creative collection of sound stretching from the incredibly catchy album opener, “FloriDada” to The Golden Girls sampled “Golden Gals,” The Painters EP remains far more focused. Both “Kinda Bonkers” and “Peacemaker” maintain a measured, popping pace accompanied by the trademark swirl of Animal Collective’s vocals. W Both do away with the tangential beats or chaotic samples that dotted the tracklisting of Painting With. On “Goalkeeper,” this repetitive and composed structure seems to crackle with a burst of energy that recalls “FloriDada,”which saw a frantic synth being paired with a descending tier of near incomprehensible vocals and a whisper of Seinfeld-esque slap bass. The thirteen-minute long extended play then concludes with a cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Jimmy Mack.” Imagine the 1967 pop-soul hit as the theme song on a 1980s science-fiction show and you’ll get a sense of The Painters the intergalactic, synth-fueled closer.

The Painters EP gives us an extra dose of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist’s bonkers style while acting as a fun companion piece to their most recent studio album. This latest EP is tighter than 2016’s release, and is a welcome addition to Animal Collective’s eclectic and ever growing discography.



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