Expecting anything from Animal Collective is dumb; they’ll break your heart every time. With Animal Collective, the unexpected comes part and parcel with their greatness. So, in many ways, it’s a welcome reprieve that “Kinda Bonkers”—the first track from their new The Painters EP— has the schema of a great Animal Collective song: that starchy syncopation, that submerged production, that drugs and campfire vibe. For a band that aims overtly to never repeat itself, this could very easily sneak onto, say, 2008’s Water Curses.
Though the sound calls to the past, the spirit of “Kinda Bonkers” remains in sync with the present, no doubt because it was culled from Painting With’s dinosaur-laden recording sessions. Like much of Painting With, these spirits don’t really bubble forth from primordial cauldrons so much as they spill forth from sippy cups, but it’s still kinda the same idea. Avey Tare sings as if he’s rediscovering the syllables of “bonkers,” while underneath him the band rediscovers the simplicity of modular synth raga. It’s loving, sweet, and playful. You expect a pop song to recapture the raw feelings of teen adolescence, but this primal, childlike exploration of basic instincts is anything but innocent.