Good question. Despite that goal--and the
band's hero worship of Syd Barrett-era Pink
Floyd--its prolific output has been
frustratingly inconsistent: For every moment
of pure psychedelic-pop bliss, there's been
an unfocused and uninteresting detour into
that dreaded Phish murk. But on their ninth
studio album, Portner, Panda Bear (Noah
Lennox) and Geologist (Brian Weitz) pare
down to a trio--Josh Dibb, a.k.a. Deakin, is
taking a leave of absence--and they
concentrate on the songwriting without
losing any of the trippy sonic playfulness
of the past.
Even as the rhythms point toward the future with their organic take on electronic dance grooves, Animal Collective remains tied to the past, most notably through the hippie visions of its impressionist lyrics. "I don't mean to seem like I care about material things like my social stance/I just want four walls and adobe slats for my girls," the group sings in "My Girl." That sort of sentiment could quickly turn from laudable to laughable, but it never does, not with melodies this strong and a sound so familiar but somehow so fresh. Besides, in these dark and dire times, an expertly crafted, absolutely irresistible utopian fantasy is exactly what rock 'n' roll needs.