Rafter Animal Feelings
On his early solo albums, San Diego producer/performer Rafter Roberts favored the fragmented and experimental, but Rafter’s fourth LP, Animal Feelings, is loaded with so many thick hooks and fat, dance-floor-friendly beats that it could sail right into the mainstream, if not for the frequent use of the word “fuck.” The biggest problem with Animal Feelings is that it feels too easy. Rafter is such a skilled technician that he barely has to break a sweat to whip up a fizzy hip-hop/indie-pop mix that would turn Beck green, and too often, Animal Feelings never advances far enough beyond one quickly grasped musical/lyrical idea. Sometimes those lyrics are distressingly cloying, too, as on “Love Makes You Happy (When It’s Not Making You Sad),” which rhymes “none of this can get you down” with “’cause you turned your frown upside-down.” At other times, though, Rafter’s reduction of his songs to their catchiest elements proves winning, as on “Timeless Form, Formless Time,” where exotic rhythms underscore the giddiness of new love. And when Rafter goes the extra step and fills out Animal Feelings songs like “No Fucking Around” and “Paper” with complete thoughts and richer arrangements, he becomes the kind of sonic guru worth heeding.