Avey Tare’s Cows on Hourglass Pond sounds effortless, like a horse trotting along a well-worn path. The Animal Collective member certainly sets up the album that way—opener “What’s the Goodside?” features a guitar strumming over a steady dub beat. He sings about bubbles, or rather, humans as bubbles, floating without direction, inevitably popping. For anyone familiar with Tare’s work, this kind of existential imagery sounds just right.
Indeed, most of this album is Tare at the top of his game. The secret lies in his home field advantage—Tare sounds perfectly comfortable working within his established sound. “Nostalgia In Lemonade” is reminiscent of Tare’s dense ‘Down There,’ though breezier thanks to a well-placed acoustic guitar. To the inevitable joy of fans, Tare also draws from early Animal Collective. “Chilly Blue” sounds like a ‘Sung Tongs’ take layered with some extra synths. Album highlight “K.C.” Yours” gallops like a cut from ‘Feels.’
Lyrically, Tare is still enthralled by the wonders of life, large and small. On “Eyes on Eyes,” Tare sings about the everlasting impact one’s look can have on another. He reflects on the destruction of a relationship on “Taken Boy.” Meanwhile, album closer “HORS_” is simply, perfectly, a tribute to the horse.
All of this is to say that Tare hasn’t lost his sense of enthusiasm. He chose to stick to what he knows, and still created an album that’s arguably his strongest solo work this decade. But, hey, they don’t call it the home field advantage for nothing.