Animal Collective has been putting out strange amounts of material through some strange mediums in the last year. From their recent Record Store Day release Transverse Temporal Gyrus to last year’s cassette-released Keep + Animal Collective, it’s simply been difficult to look forward to consistent Animal Collective. This single finds it a little easier to grasp what they’ve been up to in the big picture, the greater view set from inside the group. As suspected though, a lot has changed in Animal Collective: Avey Tare and Panda Bear both came back from large solo stints and Deakin has returned to the group, bringing back the guitar element Merriweather Post Pavilion and Fall Be Kind didn’t have.
These changes are noticeably audible, but they are definitely Animal Collective tracks of a natural progression, each project of theirs containing a niche ideal. You remember that really clean pop sensibility from Merriweather Post Pavilion? Well, the pop is still there, but if “Honeycomb” is any sign of the group’s future work, we’re in for something that works to create layers upon layers of psychedelic noise, especially from Avey. This song vibes like a faster, louder song from his solo album Down There, with water-submerged vocal effects and bouncing afropop beats. The difference here is that the entire group works to achieve a sonically dense record and when it comes together, it becomes a great reason for people to get excited for a new album.
“Gotham,” however, is a very special track. It’s the kind of song from Animal Collective’s catalogue that requires your complete and full attention and it sees Animal Collective in one of the most tight-knit sways they’ve ever been in. Up until the middle of the song, it sounds like a Panda Bear song musically that’s sung by Avey Tare, a combination that lets and has let Animal Collective succeed on such a grand level. They work well together, there is no denying that, but “Gotham” becomes even bigger than than just Avey and Panda Bear. As it continues, all of Animal Collective is coming together for a building, enigmatic song that strikes chords of “No More Runnin,” but it’s paired with a true musical payoff. They feel like a rock band, even though their music isn’t straight rock and roll. There is a communal sound that enters on “Gotham” that feels more connected than most of their songs can sound, molded with everyone in mind. One can only hope this b-side has a chance at entering the album.