By Alec Warkentin
Following the tepid reception to their lukewarm album Painting With… last year, a four-track release of music recorded and left over from those same sessions doesn’t necessarily sound alluring. Damn if experimentalist darlings Animal Collective don’t release some solid extended plays.
While it doesn’t carry the frenetic mania of 2008’s Water Curses, or share the echoing pulse of Fall Be Kind from the year after, The Painters EP is a surprisingly exciting expression from a group that pioneered experimentalism in the mainstream, and who unfortunately seemed to be losing their touch for flare with their last LP.
While the highlight of The Painters EP may be the group’s cover of “Jimmy Mack,” originally popularized by ‘60s trio Martha and the Vandellas, each track of the 13-and-a-half-minute release plays to the strength of the AnCo archetype: rhythmic psych pop backdrops, delirious vocal harmonies, and the unshaken dedication to a sound that really no other group could emulate half as successfully.
In short, The Painters EP does what Painting With… couldn’t, resulting in an experience that’s equal parts whimsical and serious while still retaining the distinct cohesiveness that’s prevalent in AnCo’s strongest works of the past.
Animal Collective, Domino Records, The Painters EP