Nothing in the Shearwater catalog prepares one for the sonic assault of Animal Joy. Where past albums often sounded like a soundtrack for sunlight resting on water, Animal Joy plays like the soundtrack to a desperate car chase in a grisly action picture. "Breaking the Yearlings" jacks up the percussive attack. "Dread Sovereign" highlights Jonathan Meiburg's sweet falsetto, which is reminiscent of Talk Talk's Mark Hollis. The keyboard washes of "You as You Were" build a compact symphony, with a melody casting a sense of melancholia over its ebullient rhythms. "Insolence" slows things to a spooky latter-day Scott Walker avant-garde piece that spirals to great heights over six and a half minutes. The production throughout is dense and mysterious, packed with odd sonic details that mesh into a wall of overwhelming sound. "Immaculate" proves that the band can rock out when the opportunity knocks hard. The atmospheres dominating "Run the Banner Down," "Believing Makes It Easy," and "Star of the Age" make for a rich headphone experience.