The namesake of the track is Scott Walker, the legendary British-American pop singer who embraced the shaggier edges of musique concrete and electronic music as his career progressed. Walker’s turn from teen idol to iconoclast proved to be influential on scores of alternative musicians, including Animal Collective. By the time he passed away in 2019, he had created some of the most challenging albums to ever have come from a former top 40 artist.
“Mostly ‘Walker’ is a tribute to Scott Walker, who passed away around the time I began writing the song,” band member Panda Bear explains. “Scott’s music has meant a lot to me, and he’ll always be a big inspiration. But there’s also a kind of exhaustion and resignation to the singer of ‘Walker’ that belies a darker layer.”
Panda Bear’s inclusion is notable in that he was absent for the band’s last project, the 2018 video album Tangerine Reef. If you know anything about AC, it’s probably that they really do live up to the “Collective” part of their name: members can come and go as they please, with the others dutifully carrying on the name with collaborators in any configuration that happens to be around.
For Time Skiffs, the classic foursome is back in full force: Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin. This marks almost a full decade since the complete lineup was involved in an Animal Collective studio album, which was 2012’s Centipede Hz. Each member brings a distinct mindset to the group’s compositions, but trying to wrap your head around the total works of the band and directing each members’ distinct contributions is an almost Sisyphian task. For my money, AC is best enjoyed by letting them wash over you.
That’s exactly what ‘Walker’ is great for. Everything that you could expect from the slightly poppier side of the band is here: discernible melodies, unobscured instrumentation, angelic harmonies. But after three minutes of great alt-pop, there’s plenty of dense noise and bizarre left turns to appeal to the more cerebral sides of your brain. Nothing about the band is ever straightforward, and that’s what makes them so appealing.
Check out the video for ‘Walker’ down below. Time Skiffs will be released on February 4th.