While Time Skiffs is technically Animal Collective’s first album in more than half a decade, the band members never really leave one another’s orbit. Over the last six years, they’ve released frequent solo work, and different configurations of the band have gotten together for collaborative projects and live performances, harnessing what’s always been the group’s amorphous, open-ended creative approach.
“Every year, all four of us are doing all these different things and they’re all connected to a central trunk of a tree, but they’re branches that spin off,” Josh Dibb says on a recent Zoom call, where he’s joined by Noah Lennox. “I think that philosophy is so central to how our music comes together, how our psyches and the community of the four of us stay healthy, with everybody feeling like they aren’t limited by this one narrative of who we are.”
Dibb describes the process that led to Time Skiffs, out on Feb. 4, via Domino, as a “extra slow, long build” that he traces back to a period around 2018, when he, David Portner, and Brian Weitz worked on the foreboding audiovisual album Tangerine Reef. Although the music was a devastating examination of environmental destruction, it united them in a way that felt reminiscent of their days playing as teenagers more than 20 years ago.
“It sort of had this return-to-high-school energy to it, the way that we put the music together. Brian and I went down to Dave’s house and just kind of were jamming in this basement,” Dibb remembers. That year, Portner, Dibb, and Weitz also played a two-night residency at the sculptural venue the Music Box Village in New Orleans, where they came up with what eventually became the skeletal outline of Time Skiffs. “It really set the tone,” Lennox says. “I feel like everything, all the work that followed, was informed by that show specifically.”
One of the most unbounded experiments on the album is “Strung With Everything,” which premieres Wednesday alongside an animated video directed by the visual artist and musician Abby Portner. The track was among the last recorded for Time Skiffs, and it’s dense with layers that get harder and harder to unlock as the music roves on. It’s the third release from the new project, following “Prester John” and “Walker.” Lennox calls it “the weirdest” on a set of mercurial songs that toggle between a lingering angst, reflective of the pandemic and environmental anxieties we’re living through, and stabs of sudden hopefulness.
“As I think as anybody can attest, there are just sort of waves of dread going around, so just trying to be hopeful and trying to do things with love — hopefully, the music embraces those two things, somehow,” Lennox says.
Time Skiffs is also meant to capture an intangible, transportive quality, emblematic of how the band sees music more broadly. “It’s the idea of the songs being little like boats or vessels that are transported — of music as this thing that kind of allows you to time travel in a way,” Lennox notes. Given the band’s longevity, those time-warps to another era are familiar. “A couple of years ago when we were on tour, we played ‘Banshee Beat’ for the first time… For me, playing it would bring my body back to this emotional place. I’d feel myself welling up emotionally in the same way that I would when we would play it in 2004,” Dibb says. “That applies to any music, really.”
The band shared in October that they would launch a North American tour starting March 8 in Richmond, Virginia; Wednesday, they’ve announced several dates in the U.K. and Europe.
Animal Collective 2022 Tour Dates
March 8 – Richmond, VA @ The National
March 9 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
March 11 – North Adams, MA @ Mass MOCA – Hunter Center
March 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
March 13 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
March 15 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
March 16 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
March 18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
March 19 – Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre
March 20 – Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
March 21 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
March 23 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
March 24 – Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
March 24 – March 27 – Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival
March 26 – Atlanta, GA @ The Eastern
July 9 – Madrid, Spain @ Mad Cool Fest
November 2 – Limerick, Ireland @ Dolan’s
November 3 – Dublin, Ireland @ National Concert Hall
November 6 – Bristol, UK @ SWX
November 7 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall
November 9 – Glasgow, UK @ Saint Luke’s
November 12 – Tourcoing, France @ Le Grand Mix
November 15 – Hamburg, Germany @ Übel & Gefährlich
November 16 – Berlin, Germany @ Kesselhaus
November 17 – Prague, Czech Republic @ MeetFactory
November 19 – Vienna, Austria @ Arena
November 20 – Munich, Germany @ Freiheiz
November 21 – Fribourg, Switzerland @ Fri-Son
November 23- Luxembourg @ Atelier
November 24 – Paris, France @ Trabendo
November 27 – Cologne, Germany @ Luxor