In recent years, experimental pop purveyors Animal Collective have sort of acted like a Bizarro Voltron, working better apart (Panda Bear's Tomboy and Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, and, to a lesser extent, the debut from Dave Portner's power trio Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks) than together (2012's ambitious but uneven Centipede Hz and 2016's underwhelming Painting With).
Eucalyptus, the new solo album from sometimes-frontman Avey Tare, may be the salve longtime fans of the band needed. A sort of If I Could Only Remember My Name for a new generation, Eucalyptus finds Portner going back-to-basics, taking listeners on a psychedelic but steady trip over 15 tracks with atmospheric and shifting samples ("Lunch Out of Order" Pt. 1 and 2), Sung Tongs-style guitar work ("Jackson 5," "PJ" and opener "Season High") and spaced-out instrumentation (the twisted "Boat Race" and lo-fi drone of "Dr aw one").
Friends Angel Deradoorian, Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang, among others, make appearances to help flesh things out, but longtime friend and former bandmate Josh Dibb (a.k.a. Deakin) probably deserves most of the extra credit.
Although almost entirely absent from the past three Animal Collective records (minus Centipede Hz standout "Wide Eyed"), Dibb had an underrated hit last year with his stoner/bedtime-friendly debut Sleep Cycle, an album as dense and stirring as it was arid and atmospheric. He lends a hand to recording here and the results are similarly surprising, creating an album less about bombast and more about blissed-out vignettes and vistas suitable for any time of day. (Domino)