Isn't It Now? by Animal Collective album review by David Saxum for Northern Transmissions. The band's full-length drops on September 29th


Isn't It Now?

Animal Collective

Animal Collective, the ever-evolving sonic explorers, are back with their latest musical journey, “Isn’t It Now?”. After their 2022 album, Time Skiffs, the quartet of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist, and Deakin have crafted an album that’s both a testament to their enduring creativity and a bold step into uncharted territory. “Isn’t It Now?” is not just a return; it’s a triumphant evolution, clocking in at 64 minutes, making it their longest album to date. Let’s dive into this captivating sonic odyssey.

The album opens with “Soul Capturer,” an entrancing blend of dreamy soundscapes and intricate rhythms that set the stage for the sonic adventure that follows.

“Genie’s Open” offers a captivating journey through sound that’s nothing short of transcendent. In the first half of the song, as you’re enveloped by its crescendoing instrumental and haunting vocals, it’s as if you’re floating through a cosmic river, carried away by its ethereal currents. However, the true magic of the track unfolds at its midpoint. As it transitions into the repetitive melodic chanting of “Sea of Light,” it’s as though you’ve arrived at your destination—an otherworldly garden of sound. The chanting becomes your guide through this enchanting realm, where every note and rhythm feels like a stepping stone on a path to sonic enlightenment. Animal Collective’s ability to create such a transformative experience within a single song is a testament to their mastery of sound and their gift for transporting listeners to extraordinary musical landscapes.

Floating into “Magicians from Baltimore” this song takes an atmospheric and ethereal approach, reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Within this tranquil soundscape, percussion, skillfully led by Panda Bear, plays a central role. The deliberate rhythms lead the song, creating an immersive and contemplative atmosphere. This track harmoniously melds introspection with a nod to legendary sounds. It’s a standout piece that showcases the band’s rhythmic finesse in a more relaxed setting.

“Defeat” stands as the monumental centerpiece of Animal Collective’s “Isn’t It Now?” album, a musical odyssey within the larger sonic narrative. With a staggering runtime of 22 minutes, encompassing nearly one-third of the album’s duration, it’s a composition that beckons exploration and offers rich rewards. Deakin’s masterful piano work forms the emotive core, providing a hauntingly beautiful foundation that infuses the song with melancholic allure. These piano melodies serve as a steady anchor amidst the enchanting yet weighty atmosphere.

A defining feature of “Defeat” is its echoing vocals, which convey an extraordinary sense of expansiveness, transcending the confines of conventional soundscapes. These ethereal voices create an immersive grandeur, akin to embarking on a cosmic journey through time and space. This expansive quality harmoniously aligns with the song’s thematic dichotomy of nostalgia and progress, melancholy and hope. “Defeat” is a musical tapestry of remarkable depth, unveiling new layers of meaning and emotion with each listen, encouraging repeated exploration into its intricate sonic narrative.

As “Defeat” leaves its profound mark, the album seamlessly transitions into “Gem & I,” a track that serves as a breath of fresh air, releasing the tension built up in the previous epic. This shift exemplifies the dynamic musical journey that “Isn’t It Now?” undertakes. “Gem & I” introduces an upbeat atmosphere, providing a welcome contrast and a sense of musical progression.

Following the energetic interlude of “Gem & I,” we enter “Stride Rite,” another testament to Animal Collective’s artistry. This complex and experimental composition intertwines a myriad of elements, showcasing their unparalleled ability to merge diverse themes into a single song. From poignant lyrics and clear vocals to traditional classical piano work and innovative percussion, “Stride Rite” is a musical collage that defies traditional boundaries. Few artists can effectively weave such multifaceted themes into a single composition, highlighting Animal Collective’s mastery in crafting intricate and evocative music. These two tracks together exemplify the album’s exceptional musical diversity and storytelling prowess.

The concluding song, “King’s Walk” serves as a serene exhalation, offering the listener a moment of reflection and contemplation after the rich and diverse musical journey they’ve experienced throughout the album. It provides a tranquil space for the listener to pause and ponder everything they’ve encountered on this voyage, allowing a sense of fulfillment to wash over them. In this final chapter, Animal Collective provides a satisfying conclusion to the album, leaving the audience with a feeling of completeness and resonance.

Isn’t It Now?” is a testament to Animal Collective’s ability to evolve and innovate while staying true to their sonic roots. It’s an album that invites listeners to explore the depths of their own consciousness while immersing themselves in a world of captivating soundscapes. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer, this album is a must-listen, showcasing the band’s enduring creativity and their ability to capture the essence of the times in sound.

Pre-order Isn’It Now? by Animal Collective HERE


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