Panda Bear and Avey Tare have been hard at work in 2018, touring their 2004 cult classic, Sung Tongs along with working on new music as a group and individually. Through the last two and a half decades, these two virtuosos have remained at the core of indie-experimental group Animal Collective, releasing ten studio albums and a litany of EPs that have all but put them in the imaginary indie hall of fame. From their height of popularity with the psych-pop record Merriweather Post Pavilion to their initially grating but infinitely rewarding Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, Animal Collective have remained true to their sound, passion, and fanbase, even if a couple tracks or records are too “out there” to really grasp.
Animal Collective’s latest sonic experiment, “Hair Cutter,” sounds like a Sung Tongs B-side that replaced the acoustic guitars with lilting analog synths. Avey Tare’s familiar vocals comfort you as they guide the ear down a rabbit hole of wavy textures and samples. If you listen closely enough you can hear the dripping of a leaky faucet, the recognizability of someone’s footsteps above your head, and the rising and falling of the sun on a lazy summer day, as “Hair Cutter” consolidates a lifetime of adolescent memories in to a four minute bite-size chunk. Not to ignore the astral quirkiness of the track, as many elements defy any key or melody, but rather float down the space stream of eternal subversion. “Hair Cutter” ends abruptly, and the silence left after is as puzzling as it is gratifying and fully expected at this point from one of the best experimental bands we’ve ever seen.