Animal Flag Announce New Album Void Ripper
Out April 13th on Flower Girl Records and Triple Crown Records
Stream “Why” via Stereogum
Even though Animal Flag have been making music since 2009, it’s best to think of the Boston-based band’s new album, Void Ripper (due out April 13th on Flower Girl Records), as a beginning rather than a continuation.
For starters, it’s the first release from the band’s current lineup — singer/guitarist Matthew Politoski, guitarist Sai Boddupalli, bassist Zach Weeks, and drummer Alex Pickert — but perhaps more importantly, it’s another entry in Animal Flag’s continual reinvention.
For every step along Animal Flag’s musical path — from their early days as a solo folk/electronic project for Politoski through 2012’s Everything Will Be Okay, 2013’s The Sounds of Sleep and 2016’s LP — another collection of songs brings the chance to build something great, squeeze every ounce of passion out of it and then demolish it in favor of a new frontier. “I tend to think of the music I’m apart of as an album-by-album endeavor,” Politoski says. “Each one is its own thing that creates a universe.”
Yet for all the changes the band have endured over the years, both musical and member-wise, their pasts still do color the present. Heavily influenced by folk artists like Sufjan Stevens and David Bazan, Politoski’s meditative musical voice gives Void Ripper an introspective aura that counters the heavy rock influences of his bandmates.
To that end, Void Ripper is all at once intimate and expansive, booming alternative rock often shrouded in dark undertones and the occasional electronic flourish but colored with introspective soul-searching themes. The band juxtapose the immediate (“Stray”) and the ethereal (“Why”) impeccably on the nine-track album, but they admit it took a few attempts to hone the sound.
“We’d never made any Animal Flag recordings with this lineup,” says Weeks, who produced and recorded the album over the course of two years. “It was a pretty ambitious first attempt at making music together. We kept adding things to the point where it was too much. We went back and cleared out a bunch of stuff and made it the true, accurate representation of what the songs would sound like if you came to see us live. Our original vision was for it to be straightforward and really raw.”
Not only raw musically, Void Ripper also breaks down emotional walls with Politoski’s lyrics, as the singer struggles with weighty existentialism.
“I think a lot of the strain that’s on the album is about observing the physical limitations of being a human and the moment of dread when you realize you’re not going to live forever,” he says. “That’s the void: that cavernous, empty nothingness. I think a lot of the time I let that feeling drown me and destroy me. The other side is combating that. When I think of ‘void ripper,’ I’m going to fight back and know I can have meaning in the world and exist.”
Void Ripper Tracklisting:
1. Morning Star
2. Void Ripper
6. Lord of Pain
7. I Can Hear You Laugh
04/03 – Hamden, CT – Space Ballroom^
04/04 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club^
04/27 – New York, NY – Trans Pecos
04/28 – Philadelphia, PA – Everybody Hits
05/04 – Manchester, NH – The Bungalow
05/05 – Cambridge, MA – The Democracy Center