The day after spinning New Animal’s magnificent self-titled record for the first time, I received a message in my last.fm inbox from Kris, one half of the Atlanta duo. The message was simple and direct, thanking me for listening and pointing me to the band’s facebook page, which was full of last-minute show announcements and true gratitude for fan feedback. In an age where new artists strive for mysterious anonymity by appropriating, mutating and misdirecting to the point of cliche, it’s refreshing to see an act engage their audience directly with a minimum of pretense.
This honesty and youthful optimism carries over to New Animal’s music. Despite a limited palette of glimmering keys, blown-out bass, sequenced percussion and layered tenor vocals, they’ve managed to craft something novel and exciting. Their ambition and restlessness matches their naivete beautifully: each song gracefully twists and turns between several catchy hooks before returning to an anthemic chorus. “All I Want Is Gone” filters Motown’s detailed bop-and-sway through the cavernous production and repetition of post-Panda bear lo-fi pop, while “Frightened” matches the looming millennial dread of The XX and mid-period Radiohead with the stately chamber-pop-rock of Spencer Krug’s work in Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. And without knocking indie rock juggernauts Broken Social Scene, something tells me even they would be envious of the layered, loping lullaby “Fires in the Backyard”.
New Animal are exceedingly creative and idealistic, which both lends to their charm and occasionally begs for an editor to guide their approach. Nevertheless, this self-titled record promises great things, and the band’s consistent output over the past year shows no signs of slowing down. Download New Animal’s self-titled record and new Up! EP from their bandcamp.Credits: Matthew McKinley