Isn’t It Now?

Isn’t It Now?

More than 25 years into their existence, Animal Collective is riding the momentum of 2022’s rejuvenating Time Skiffs, marking the quickest turnaround of new material since their ultra-prolific 2000s streak. There’s flickers of prior Animal Collective eras to be found here beyond the material’s direct connection to Time Skiffs, as many of these songs were written and workshopped during that album’s recording. Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox’s splashy drums recall the darkly shaded ecstasy of 2005’s Feels, while the proggy electricity that runs through these nine songs is not unlike the stridency of Centipede Hz from 2012. But despite these callbacks to the past, Isn’t It Now? feels like new territory for the ever-evolving Animal Collective once again, further cementing them as one of the century’s most iconoclastic and singular indie acts. Whereas its predecessor was the first time Lennox, Brian “Geologist” Weitz, Dave “Avey Tare” Portner, and Josh “Deakin” Dibb put together an album remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Isn’t It Now? marks a return to traditional studio confines for Animal Collective—and the result is a rich and lived-in feel that sounds as if you’re sitting in on a celestial jam session. The swirling epic centerpiece “Defeat”—at nearly 22 minutes, the longest song the group’s put forth on a proper record—builds to an all-in-it chorus before dissolving into a lovely morass of rumbling bass and Portner’s echo-laden vocals. Of course, the left turns are in abundance as well: Witness the thumping “All the Clubs Are Broken,” which sounds like their own take on MGMT’s paranoid psych-pop, or the squeals of classic guitar near the end of the nine-minute shape-shifter “Magicians From Baltimore.”

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