The Animal Collective member hasn't created anything groundbreaking here.
The latest album from Animal Collective heavyweight Dave Portner, under the Avey Tare moniker, orbits the same gravitational field that his bandmates helped create. The floating synths and sunburnt vocals stay true to Avey Tare’s usual modus operandi with some detours that work and some which lead nowhere.
Cows on Hourglass Pond is tightly compact with ten tracks. Starting off promisingly with ‘What’s The Goodside?’, a dub-influenced beat guided by a strumming guitar and a heavenly organ, Tare repeats a sleepy mantra on the track saying “I just wanna roam/I just wanna roam”. Since the early 2000s, Portner has roamed the stars, mining for new sounds to grace our ears. This song proves he isn’t done searching just yet.
The album continues with songs of similar structure: the strumming, reverb-heavy guitar accompanied by far out synths and Portner’s washed out vocals. ‘Saturdays (Again)’ is made up of these ingredients, but it’s held up by the song’s balance of catchiness and psychedelia.
The album’s magic wears off a little as it collapses under the weight. The vocals slowly become a garbled block of echo whose purpose – to deliver lyrics or to be an instrument in this whole cacophony of sound – is unsure.
Songs like ‘Nostalgia in Lemonade’ hang in the fog for too long. ‘Our Little Chapter’ doesn’t provide much in the way of new sounds and it feels like a throwaway track.
The closer ‘HORS_’ ends the album on a better note. The clip-clop beat calls to the album’s own cover of a rider trapped in a stained-glass window with his mighty steed. As the album fades away, the image of Portner riding away seems appropriate.