Time Skiffs by Animal Collective Album review by Mark Crickmay. The full-length drops on February 4, 2022 via Domino Records

Domino Records

8.4

Animal Collective

Time Skiffs

Staying true to their restless experimental nature, Animal Collective leads listeners on a journey six years after their last auditory exploration with Time Skiffs. What shines through is maturity and a settling soul at the heart of experimentalists. Keen to ever wander and let their inner child be the wonder which pulls them in every direction, the settling of Animal Collectives soul doesn’t linger for long before letting themselves out to play again. A time warp into nostalgic times for the inner child seeking to explore. 

“How are we doing now/How are we gonna know”, David Portner hails to abiding angst, reflective from surrounding anxiety with glimmers of optimism — referencing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Blooming with ripe nostalgia, restful hymn-like motifs and a distinct taste of autumn harvest, Time Skiffs is curiously eminent of Fleetwood Mac contained in the vessel of modernity and experimental reverence. 

The group sticks to their experimental pop roots while tightening their focus and driving their ever-competent songwriting skills home in tracks like ‘Prester John’. A freak folk-pop song smothered between the sheets of a vacant collection of eerie yet supine soundscapes. 

‘Strung With Everything’ steers into Brian Wilson territory with its chord voicing, near-perfect structural harmonies veering only with Indonesian Gamelan vibes and driving indie folk-rock stabbing chords. Animal Collective isn’t ready to settle down, never holding onto pop minimalism for more than a moment. ‘Cherokee’ transports listeners into immense texturally driven aural spectrums like a psychedelic hymn intent on soothing your innermost soul with delirious ostinato. 

Time Skiffs is, in true Animal Collective nature, riddled with Indonesian and Nigerian rhythmic influences — yet at the core of every track is a driving freak-folk heartbeat. ‘Walker’ hears the collective resign again to their inner child. “Appreciate, you cannot wait, we’ll see you out/there” the collective churns out optimism in troubling and anxious times led by the global pandemic. 

At times it seems Animal Collective’s soul is overlooked by the intensity with which they transport listeners into ethereal and effervescent soundscapes. ‘Passer-by' reigns in the collective’s experimentalism and provides a looming atmosphere with punctuated vocal arrangements. Risen to observation, Animal Collective reflects on what may be kindness from strangers in anxious times. 

‘We Go Back’ begins with what feels is an iOS alarm clock outtake and readily takes off into layers of serene vocal harmonies focused on healing and reflection. Remaining focused on Time Skiff’s contemplative wondrous exploration with billowing layers of crossover vocal harmonies, overlapping and meandering delicately upon each other — the soul of maturity collects near the end of this journey. 

It’s evident that the quartet, as its complete formation, has matured and allowed itself to centre in its songwriting focus. Never losing their need to wander and allow themselves to exponentially experiment, yet aligning in an intent that grounds them so viscerally. Time Skiffs releases on Domino Records Friday, February 4th, 2022 — ready for listeners to unlock layer after layer of explorative wonderment.

Order Time Skiffs by Animal Collective HERE