Post Animal know how to pull wonder out of uncertainty. The five musicians have spent seven years harnessing a remarkable fluidity, different band members taking the lead vocals for any given song, the rest juggling harmonies, instruments, writing, and production duties. Rather than be deterred when the pandemic abruptly ended their 2020 US tour and hampered their ability to collaborate in person, Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Javier Reyes, Wesley Toledo, and Matthew Williams found a new way to connect their surrealist mosaic. After months of demoing ideas in their respective homes, they finally came back together at Hirshland’s family farm. The quintet walked up the farmhouse’s front steps—the same steps where eight years earlier they’d named the band—going home to ground their brotherhood in a way that no other location could offer. Ten days later they’d created a new language, Love Gibberish (due May 13), a record that indulges in retro influences while pushing at the edges of modernity, relishing joy in the mess, a neon cityscape rising out of a fog of nostalgia. By opting to release the album independently, self-producing, and having Allison mix and engineer, Post Animal embraced a new adventure that pushes their creative vision deeper into the stratosphere while maintaining their hold on the complexities of reality. “This album takes us back to how it felt before we ever thought we’d be an actual touring band, with no expectations for ourselves,” Williams says. “Now, we’re inside the gibberish-ness of life, trying to figure out what we need to survive.”
When the world seems to lack any semblance of sense, the only way is to make your own.
Post Animal began that creative journey while on the road for 2020’s warm and wild-eyed Forward Motion Godyssey, sharing song ideas in the van between tour stops. Those transportative personal stories morphed and melded as time stretched on and the band members returned to their respective homes. “We were all working in so many different directions, and it all came together when we came back together,” Allison says. Williams puts that possibility of shared joy into crystalline focus on “Don’t Go That Way”: “I had to miss my friends to realize/ Life is not all that serious.”
The cyclical nature of their connection and unity as artists runs deep to the album’s core, stretching thematically out to its musical and lyrical branches. The album’s cover smirkingly nods at that interconnection, blurring youth and age, past and present, the commonplace and the bizarre. “Simply swapping the people’s eyes on the cover makes them feel like they’re somehow the same entity, but different,” Toledo explains. “It’s a quick reminder of the weirdness that we are overwhelmed by.”
Each of the musicians take their turn at the front of the band, reinforcing their status as a self-sufficient independent unit. Reyes leads the way on a pair of tracks that subvert traditional heartbreak gamesmanship. The Van Halen-esque “No More Sports” amps up the bravado on shredded electric guitar while simultaneously asking softly to “just leave a space for those to breathe a little down the road/ Common courtesy.” The twisty, atmospheric “Puppy Dog” reimagines a breakup as the separation anxiety of the dog left at home by his ex. “I was watching our dog while writing that song, and he started whimpering that she was gone—which matched the impending separation I could feel in our relationship,” Reyes explains. “There was this cocktail of sadness and acceptance.”
Post Animal’s sonic palette has always reveled in the unexpected oddities, a collage ranging from Toto to Black Sabbath. Here, album highlights like single “Cancer Moon” cover Boston and Journey grandiosity in a wash of hypermodern dream pop. Pairing comfy genre signposts with a cocoon of lyrical uncertainty, the track constructs a liminal space at once cooling and steamy. “Call on the friend that takes on the weight of things/ If you tell them what kind of shape you’re in,” Hirshland sings, tapping into the subconscious meaning within the zodiac and how one’s sense of home comes into play when things aren’t going your way.
Post Animal returned to their own home of Chicago, splitting recording sessions between Palisade Studio, Treehouse Records Studio, and their own apartments, pulling together every resource that they could muster. “We even recorded vocals in my closet,” Allison laughs. “We had fleece blankets lining the walls for sound proofing and had to turn off the air conditioner to keep things quiet, even though it was that sweaty, steamy primetime summer in Chicago.” Though the track certainly carries a scorched edge, Allison’s lead vocals on opener “Bolt From Above” show no sign of home recording, the entire album carrying an overstuffed radiant aura.
Equal parts Jon Hopkins futurist electronics and ‘80s hair metal, Love Gibberish emphasizes that limitless capacity of Post Animal, five musical minds simultaneously melded as one and stretching to the ends of their constellation of influences and ideas. “The record is all about the duality that exists within us, these different pieces of wisdom that we have to try to put together and the confusion that comes with it,” Toledo says. “You can reflect on your younger self or you can look forward to your future, you can strive to be more mature or you can see the value of youth. But the only way to make it through it all is to anchor yourself in this loving essence, and we wanted the album to showcase that.”