Animal Collective Are of Two Minds on Hypnotic New Single “Gem & I”

Animal Collective press photo
With "Gem & I," Animal Collective offers the final preview of the forthcoming Isn't It Now?' (out September 29) | Hisham Akira Bharoocha, courtesy of the artist

The latest mind-bender from avant-pop veterans Animal Collective is nearly here, and our final preview of their new album Isn’t It Now? (Sept. 29, Domino) arrived last week in the form of “Gem & I,” a track the band has been performing live since 2019.

The third single from Isn’t It Now? after this summer’s “Soul Capturer” and “Defeat,” “Gem & I” is reggae-tinged and subtly tropical, with a soothing hypnotism to its laid-back chants of “​​Seeing the sun” and “Let’s do it again and again and again.” There’s a clattering energy to the instrumental that never overpowers the song’s sense of peace, however animated by imagination it may be: “Take a sip from a sagging dream / Let’s take a minute,” the band suggest, finding respite in their topsy-turvy inner world.

As much as “Gem & I” evokes a carefree ease with its sunny psychedelic groove, there’s also an undercurrent of entropy—like the zodiac sign of twins to which its title alludes, the track is of two minds. The lyrics are dotted with dichotomies, like “Now we’re falling / Seeing the sun,” “Changing the name / Staying the same” and “Quick with the compliment / There’s nothing in it.” But the clearest is in its last lines: “Another tip to the golden years / We’re probably in it.” All good things must come to an end.

Animal Collective recorded Isn’t It Now? with Grammy-winning producer Russell Elevado (D’Angelo, The Roots, Kamasi Washington) over two weeks at New York’s The Bunker in late 2021, pulling from the same songwriting sessions that populated 2022’s acclaimed Time Skiffs. The result is the band’s longest album to date at 64 minutes, nearly a third of which is dedicated to its epic first single “Defeat.” The album also features “King’s Walk,” another track the band have been working out live for the past few years.

Although press materials call Isn’t It Now? “as communal and supportive as Animal Collective has ever felt,” all four members are accomplished solo artists in their own right. Avey Tare is currently touring as a solo act, with support from Geologist on select dates and three Florida shows set for this fall, while Panda Bear will perform at Austin’s Levitation Festival in October alongside his Reset collaborator Sonic Boom. See their tour dates down below. Isn’t it Now? is available for preorder now.

Avey Tare Solo Tour Dates

Sept 19 Toronto, ON – Underground*

Sept 21 Montreal, QC – Bar Le Ritz PDB !

Sept 23 Accord, NY – Woodsist Festival

Sept 26 Columbus, OH – Otherworld+

Sept 27 Nashville, TN – The End+

Sept 29 Dallas, TX – Andy’s Bar+

Sept 30 Austin, TX – Parish+

Oct 1 Houston, TX – WOMH Upstairs+

Oct 3 New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa+

Oct 5 Tampa, FL – New World Brewery+

Oct 6 Miami, FL – Gramps+

Oct 8 Orlando, FL – The Social+

  • * with Katie McBride
  • ! with Liliane Chlela
  • + with Geologist

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom Dates

Oct 27 Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

More New Music

You can hear new tracks from Animal Collective, and music from local, regional, national and international artists on our music discovery station The Independent 89.9 HD4. And you can follow our Fresh Squeeze playlist on Spotify to stream all the best new music, updated every month.

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