Indie/altrentaive pop rock from the United Kingdom, latest full-length album released in 2012.
Animal Kingdom are a three piece comprising Richard Sauberlich (Vocals/Guitar/Piano), Hamish Crombie (Bass), Geoff Lea (Drums).
Their debut album ‘Signs and Wonders’ was recorded by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes/The Shins) in Seattle and released in 2009. The first single ‘Tin Man’ was Itunes ‘Single of the Week’ and Itunes named them ‘Best New Alternative Act’.
Support tours with Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, Snow Patrol and Silversun Pickups followed, as well as numerous festival appearances in the UK and Europe.
Songs taken from the album were synched on various feature films and TV shows including ‘Never Let Me Go’ (starring Keira Knightly) and HBO’s ‘Big Love’.
Animal Kingdom are getting rave notices even though they've only put out one limited-release single and are yet to issue their debut single proper. We can see why people are getting excited by them. They're like Animal Collective if they were encouraged to recoup all the hyperbolic praise they've had this year by playing ballads in the vein of early Coldplay, like a more focused version of Scandinavian ethereal-prog troupe Mew, like a more song-based Sigur Rós or Snow Patrol with some of the Icelandic crew's post-rock atmospherics. Sigur Patrol, anyone? They've been recording in Seattle's Electrokitty Studios with producer Phil – Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses – Ek, and in a way they're at the midpoint between the former's diaphanous melodies and the latter's melodious dynamics. They've got a singer, Richard Sauberlich, whose ability to sound world-weary and innocent places him in that lineage of post-Bends/Jeff Buckley vocalists that includes Chris Martin and him from Keane. Meanwhile, the band do epic without resorting to hammy histrionics or bluster and the songs never outstay their welcome. One of the best things you can say about Animal Kingdom is that they don't sound British – rather they sound American, specifically from upstate New York and with Dave Fridmann at the controls, and they purvey a similar brand of lost-boy-wailing-for-home-in-the-face-of-a-vast-unforgiving-cosmos to Mercury Rev circa Deserter's Songs. Sauberlich's yearning falsetto really is lovely and the way it floats above the often quite undemonstrative backing suggests Animal Kingdom may match commercial rewards with critical respect.
Snow Patrol, Keane et al may be massively popular but they generally get sniffy reviews because music critics, probably much like film critics, mistrust any sense of contrivance and don't take kindly to being forced to make the "right" emotional response. With Animal Kingdom, the signposts are more subtle. Funnily enough, they recently toured as support to Snow Patrol, a brave move perhaps on Gary Lightbody and co's behalf and an interesting one on the part of Animal Kingdom – we wonder whether the audiences could tell the difference. In a way, Animal Kingdom are bringing experimental music to the masses, employing many of the techniques and textures you normally find in bands on the post-rock margins. Tin Man, their debut single proper, dares to keep things simple and spacious, while Chalk Stars, that limited-edition early release, frames Sauberlich's voice at its most fragile against a hushed backing of mainly piano, plus some drums and barely-there guitar, although they know a crowd-pleaser when they hear one, and eventually it builds and builds towards a rousing, crashing climax. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt there and presume that was down to the record company representative standing behind them with a gun.