Once upon a time, on a high street far, far away, you couldn’t escape the sounds of Animal Collective blasting out of every Urban Outfitters or Topshop. The Baltimore 20-somethings, and their maximalist experimental pop, were synonyms for hipster. But now, over 20 years since they first started, and 6 years since their last studio album, eleventh effort ‘Time Skiffs’ eschews the dense, agitated soundscapes that made ‘Centipede Hz’ and ‘Painting With’ a testing listen for even the most ardent Animal Collective fan in favour of something more meditative. There’s still plenty going on - boings and bleeps leap out of nowhere like an ambush by a didgeridoo. But ‘Time Skiffs’ is a transcendentally beautiful record that still feels like it belongs as part of their discography. “Treating everyday as an image of a moment that’s passed”, the band harmonise on lead single ‘Prester John’. ‘Walker’, an ode to the late Scott Walker, opens with Panda Bear singing, “Go and take a load off / Put the baggage down”. ‘Prester John’ twinkles like a journey through the stars, while ‘Car Keys’ elicits the vibe of a gentle psychedelic trip. Closing track ‘Royal and Desire’ brings the record into land with shimmering guitars and some of the band’s most delicate harmonies. If anything, it’s those harmonies that are the standout here. Better than they have been in years, there’s an undeniable connection between these four men, forged over years of playing, writing and noodling tunes out together. For some, this might be too tame. An album full of ‘Bluish’ rather than ‘Fireworks’. But for others, that means it’s the most accessible.
Records & Merch
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