Recommend if you like: tUnE-yArDs, The Beach Boys

Expectation: Experimental pop group ‘Animal Collective’ is a group famed for their experimental, ambitious, and noisy take on pop music. Beginning as a lo-fi indie band, the group’s sound has long since abandoned any convenient classification, with the most accurate descriptions inevitably referencing The Beach Boys. Fittingly, Painting With was recorded in the same studio used by Brian Wilson during the recording of Pet Sounds, so I like to think that the group’s legendary predecessor was perhaps there in spirit (I don’t really think anything nearly so romantic, but it was too interesting a tidbit to not mention).


  • FloriDada – An outstanding album opener, filled with frantic, interwoven vocal harmonies throughout, successfully being both bizarre and catchy.
  • Vertical – Another great track, covered in crackling, modulated bass lines that sound like they may have originally been vocals.
  • Lying In Grass – Everything about this instrumental feels off-kilter, but the melody and harmonies are very simple. Its noisy and weird, but kind of cool.
  • The Burglars – The elements of a good track are all here, but the loud, droning synths cover everything in a layer of noise that detracts from the impact of the track as a whole.
  • Natural Selection – The drums on this track are entirely too much; everything else is relatively relaxed, but the drums pound away at a 1-2 rhythm that feels so wrong that it sounds like everything else is sped up just to go with it.
  • Golden Gal – There are some goofy sounds on several tracks, but this one takes it to a new level. Despite this, the melody is catchy and fun, with a very ‘classic’ feel.

Overall: To Animal Collective, more is more. Every track is a monumental stack of layers tall of enough to give Bryan Wilson a migraine, and every sound feels like it was fine-tuned for hours to fit in or stick out appropriately. While no other track carries the immediacy of ‘FloriDada’, their are impressive harmonies and incredibly produced instrumentals throughout the album (if I didn’t mention a song in this review, it means I liked it for the same reasons I mentioned elsewhere). If I were to sum up the album through comparisons, its as if an avid group of Beach Boys enthusiasts made their own album emulating them, but with the boundless self-indulgence of The Mars Volta. Everything is turned to 11 at all times, but they make it work through enormous depth of vision and ambition.

Score: 7/10