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Animal Collective Painting With Domino

Animal Collective have previously been described as sounding like ‘two Beach Boys records playing at the same time’ and, as with most the discography, your perception of their latest record Painting With will depend heavily on whether you think that idea sounds like sonic bliss or a cacophonous, psychedelic hell.

Doubling up on everything that’s divisive about their music, Painting With discards the spacious arrangements and restraint of previous album Centipede Hz in favour of lightning-paced chaos. Layered vocals dominate almost every track, harmonising at different tempos, while almost farcically tweaked-out synths war with one and other in a haze of metallic zaps, jitters and hysteria.

Opener FloriDada scrambles barbershop tropes with a buoyant, narcotic energy while Hocus Pocus centres on rubbery bass, metallic vocals and an array of wacky effects that recall the sounds of 90s platform video games. Purposefully inane lyrics such as “Bagels for everyone/ that’s the kind of thing you would have wanted” and “My feet can’t cross the parking lot/ the parking lot is way too hot” make up the majority of album’s choruses, pushing the tracks to the outer limits of palatability.

While these perverse tendencies can easily be off-putting, it’s hard not to marvel at the scale and singularity of what Animal Collective achieve. The album is shot through with moments of artfully crafted serenity; Lying in The Grass begins dissonantly but gives way to a blissfully satisfying piano hook; Bagels in Kiev introduces an equally addictive and tranquil interlude.

These elements feel like pockets of calm in the centre of a storm, and demonstrate how capable Animal Collective are of creating straight-forwardly beautiful music. It’s the dearth of these moments that reveals how uninterested the band are in doing so.