Animal Collective – Painting With (Domino Records, 2016)
A complete 180 from the dizzying cacophony of Centipede Hz, Painting With is by all accounts too nondescript for its own good. Though Animal Collective double down on the sunny, gleeful pop that made their previous albums so infectiously appealing, the trio seem more content with playing with bright sounds than crafting compelling pop songs. Whereas opener “Floridada” strikes an ideal balance of colourful tones, never quite veering into self-parody, “Hocus Pocus” and “Summing the Wretch” feel more like tedious rhythmic exercises than pleasant psychedelic pop. Though never a chore, its Beach Boys influence shining through at every turn, Painting With is ultimately beset by its lack of ambition. Given that this incarnation of the band is capable of delivering an album like 2009’s unforgettable Merriweather Post Pavilion, one can’t help but be a bit underwhelmed.
Trial Track: “Golden Gal”