Animal Collective- Painting With (Domino)

Animal Collective- Painting With (Domino)

Surreal collages.  Breaking conformity.  Messages hidden underneath untidy layers of experimentation.  Animal Collective may not adhere to all of the principles of the movement of Dadaism – for instance, the act has lasted longer than the craze itself – but those are three examples that fit inside their Venn diagram.

The Baltimore project launched the promotion of their 10th record with the fidgety single ‘FloriDada’.  A song that shows disapproval at the criticism of the Sunshine State by out-of-towners, and extends to any kind of derision between states and countries.  The fact that Dadaism was born out of disgust it makes Animal Collective’s play on words highly appropriate.  As the lyrics piece together random attributes of different countries, “the fair hair of Sweden…” and “a dancer from Ghana…” it imagines the bizarre assemblage of Dadaist Hannah Höch.  Although this connection between Dada and their album Painting With unfortunately isn’t as obvious lyrically throughout as it could have been (and as demonstrated by their freaky sleeve), it’s clear that Animal Collective are protesting for change. ‘Golden Gal’ is a rare perspective; a song written by men that celebrates female individualism and the rejection of feminine stereotypes. Animal Collective uses the late 80’s sitcom The Golden Girls as the catalyst for this school of thinking. Firstly by borrowing a significantly sarcastic clip from the TV show- the first comedy programme to feature an all female cast- and then using that as springboard to question why the freedom of the characters isn’t reflected in parts of modern society.

Other songs on the album provide strong social commentary including ‘The Burglars’.  A song about the worrying lack of security and safeness in the world, a fear also documented on ‘My Girls’ from their eighth album Merriweather Post Pavilion.  ‘Summing The Wretch’ is intriguingly instructive, like a brainwashing war poster.  Although ‘Bagels In Kiev’ could simply be an epitaph to a grandfather, it seems as if it revisits community conflicts and torn political relationships.  “These days I’m not sure who is getting along or if they were before.”

Aside from the Dada politics, this album is an easy transaction for Animal Collective’s army.  The overlapping hopping vocals remain.  So do the jumpy compositions that grow in suffocating layers.  Although Painting With isn’t as angry and vocally rough as the predecessor Centipede HZ, it appears to borrow its occupation with technological malfunction, radio transmissions and frequency noises.  Cat-unfriendly high-pitched rings in various moments including at the end of ‘Bagels In Kiev’ and a humorous news report about dinosaurs at the start of ‘Hocus Pocus’ points towards that fondness.

Whilst it might be a contradictory statement, Painting With is weirdly cohesive and stuck its style for something so agitated and springy.  “With this one we were just in and out,” said band member Brian Weltz. Recording the expression of the moment, possibly a Dadaist theory?


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.