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Painting Pop In Psychedelic Colors

Animal Collective
Animal Collective

In an alternate universe, the album Painting With, which dropped in February, might have been Animal Collective’s pop breakthrough.

But because the world is backwards and topsy-turvy, the album that broke through was 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, a synth-slathered fantasia that sounds like harsh noise next to Painting With. Before it was released, nobody expected the Baltimore psych-pop band would ever play the actual Merriweather Post Pavilion, a Maryland mega-venue that typically hosts bands like Green Day and The Who.

But in 2011, the band did. 

And then they had to fuck everything up with the inaccessible, widely reviled Centipede Hz of 2012.

Some bandwagon-jumpers might not even know Animal Collective even did anything after Merriweather. But Animal Collective is still active, touring and set to play Sept. 26 at the McDonald Theatre. 

Bring your dancing shoes. Painting With sounds like nothing so much as The Jackson 5 on speed. The hooks are bubble-gummy and childlike. The tempos are breakneck — band member Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) cites the Ramones as an influence. The band filled up the studio with kiddie pools and dinosaur projections while recording these songs, and the final product sounds the part. 

Opening the show will be Eric Copeland of the band’s longtime buddies, experimental group Black Dice (whose Beaches & Canyons album is worth a listen). It’s not hard to imagine that Copeland’s work was a conscious or subconscious inspiration on Painting With; his music is fast-paced and filled with staccato and kiddie sounds, much like Animal Collective’s latest. He’ll be a hoot; don’t miss his set.

Animal Collective and Eric Copeland perform 8 pm Monday, Sept. 26, at McDonald Theatre; $25. All ages. — Daniel Bromfield