Back in the late 2010s, I was a wanna-be writer, imagining myself contributing to news websites and radio shows, and in fact did end up taking a spot on a rock radio station run by an enterprising neighbour. I ended up hosting a chart show on Saturday mornings, but toyed with an idea of some kind of indie-rock show one night a week, which led me to Animal Collective.

Not a band but a true collective, the group is made up of four members who may or may not contribute to every album; in fact, from 11 albums, the full complement of members has only appeared four times, including here.

The album I first heard from Animal Collective was their biggest commercial hit, Meriweather Post Pavilion. Time Skiffs is their third since then, and easily their best. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the group is avant garde with their songwriting, obsessed with composition, sometimes to the detriment of coherence. And Time Skiffs does lean into that ecletic weirdness they love. But it’s engaging and enjoyable; opener “Dragon Slayer” is pop-synth brilliance, connoting anything from new wave to indie pop, and it gives way to “Car Keys”, a mellow ode to modern indie pop and an early highlight. “Strung With Everything” evokes late-eighties Beach Boys (“Kokomo” specifically), while “Cherokee” is an immersive toe-tapper, choc-full of ethereal beauty.

My one critique would be that it overuses – like, way overuses – bells. A weird criticism, I know, but it sounds like a wind chime was clanging about in the studio while the band jammed. Its a minor problem though, this is a fun and enjoyable record.

CLTM (Chris Listens To Music) is my attempt to listen to a new album every day; you can follow my efforts on Instagram here (and send recommendations), and if you like what I’m doing, support my efforts by shouting me a cuppa at Buy Me A Coffee.