To listen to The Looking Away, the second album from Animal Kingdom, is to feel like you’ve boarded a cosmic brigantine, bound for the outer reaches of some Jim Steranko-illustrated dimension locked away from space and time, or maybe also Thom Yorke’s house. That is to say, it’s a sparkling, dreamy slice of post-Britpop.
Animal Kingdom specializes in that dreamlike sound, like Parachutes-era Coldplay on a really crazy Ambien bender. The Looking Away’s opener, “The Wave,” tugs liberally at Florence + The Machine’s opera cape, a spooky and eerie number with an appropriate tone of grandeur. It’s what falling into a black hole sounds like, I would imagine.
The furtive “Get Away With It” comes across like a lost Metric track, while lead single “Strange Attractor” has a sweeping scope and primal lyrics befitting the band’s feral moniker (“It must be chemical” and “It only comes in waves”). The edge dulls a little after that, with distant, reverb-laden “Straw Man” taking a trip down the rabbit hole.
The Looking Away never quite soars as high in the second half, but there’s a flavors of Dan Black peppered here and there, particularly on “Glass House” and “Everything at Once.” It’s never an unpleasant experience, but it could easily become background accompaniment.
There are plenty of bands trying to carve out a similar niche in wispy indie rock. But Animal Kingdom offers a grand take on the mini-genre that’s worth a listen.
(1) “The Wave”
(2) “Get Away With It”
(3) “Strange Attractor”