In 2020, The Strokes released their sixth album, “The New Abnormal”, and in doing so, aged gracefully into their legacy acting status. They don’t necessarily do anything new, but they do what they’ve always been good at and do it well (which is more than can be said for other legacy acts). The question for the pop group, Animal Collective, is where they stand with their latest album, “Time Skiffs”, released more than 20 years after the start of their career. Unlike strokes — who basically only ever did one thing – Animal Collective, in the tradition of rock musical chameleons like David Bowie, never lingered long on one aesthetic. The mark of a great musical artist, in my humble opinion, is to always succeed in producing new music that sounds totally different from what they’ve done before while still sounding totally like themselves. With “Time Skiffs”, Animal Collective manages to maintain this standard musical exploration.
“Time Skiffs” is perhaps Animal Collective’s best release since their breakthrough 2009 album, “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” I wouldn’t call it “Dad rock”, but it has a distinct “Dad” energy. For me, Animal Collective albums always paint sonic portraits of landscapes. ‘Centipede Hz’, their 2012 goblin-mode album, features a desert under a beating red sun, while their 2005 album, ‘Feels’, is set deep in the Garden of Eden. “Time Skiffs” is a twilight forest, intimate, verdant, happy and relaxed, but not quite nocturnal. On the album, it’s clear that Animal Collective is playing with a full deck of cards. This means that each member of Animal Collective contributed to the album, which is not always the case. “Merriweather Post Pavilion” and their previous effort, 2016’s “Painting With,” for example, didn’t feature Deakin (Josh Dibbs). The twilight forest aesthetic of “Time Skiffs” is reminiscent of his 2016 solo album, “Sleep Cycle.” In fact, it seems to me to be Animal Collective’s most creative album, as opposed to Avey Tare (David Portner) and Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), which are generally described in reviews as the referees of each album’s musical. direction.
One of the most novel aspects of “Time Skiffs”, at least for me, is the dub timbre of the rhythm section. The rhythm continues deep, regular and bathed in reverberation. The album is definitely less hyper and manic than their previous two studio albums. Animal Collective’s music is always very emotional, but it establishes its sonically nuanced emotional aesthetic before adding lyrical specificity. The dubby aesthetic keeps the music calm, striking a happy medium between the long, smooth, atmospheric songs and the active, hyper-passionate bangers that defined the two poles of 2005’s “Feels,” one of their best albums. “Strung with Everything” is the most intense song on the album, with its stops and starts and its grand piano, and it perfectly respects the line between these poles. The entire album is steeped in beautiful harmonies and the graceful, playful melodies that Animal Collective is known for. The harmonies that had fueled Animal Collective’s breakthrough with “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, here serve to heighten the intimacy of “Time Skiffs’ twilight forest aesthetic”, demonstrated best on lead single, “Prester John “.
“Time Skiffs” is a magnificent album that demonstrates that Animal Collective is still committed to exploring the boundaries of music and still refuses to be pinned down by genre designations. Animal Collective continues here what it has always done: welcoming, surprising and challenging listeners by wearing their hearts on their sleeves in new and fascinating ways. In their discography, “Time Skiffs”, carves out a place in their emotional sketches of the life that comes with fulfilling the wish to provide for their loved ones that they expressed so long ago in their breakthrough single, “My Girls”. ”
Album: “Skippers of Time”
Artist: animal collective
Favorite tracks: Prester John, strung with everything, Cherokee
If you want: Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Mellow Indie Pop
Evaluation: 5 out of 5