“There is something anomalous to this group, as its moody atmospherics and sweeping narratives within the lyrics set them in a class apart; however, the music and performances are so tightly under control, it sets them apart from most post-punk artists. There is nothing throughout Animal Joy that suggests something wasn’t supposed to happen and became a happy accident. Instead, the music here is exactly constructed that recalls the complex pop-rock typical of the 80’s. Peter Gabriel is probably the most obvious influence here, especially in lead singer Johnathan Meiberg’s chamber-deep voice that still stretches in falsetto. And if that doesn’t immediately recall that era of the former Genesis front man, songs and titles like “Open Your Houses,” will.
But as impressively structured the tunes are, it speaks to how to perform passionately. Everything here is dense, and at times unexpected. “Dread Sovereign” the third track, for example, features overdriven guitars playing at a slow, burning pace that simmers quietly until the mighty, heavy chorus. Or consider the lone up-tempo track, “Immaculate,” which speeds along just below in the same way that driving just below the 55-mph speed limit is going too fast. It takes nearly forever for Animal Joy to leave an impression beyond its own moodiness, a kind of melancholia that is soulful, but isolated from really connecting. Perhaps because the lyrics and subject matter are so earthy and universal in nature, it doesn’t make an effort to really draw you in and surprise you. [...]”