Rafter Roberts is quite the musical renaissance man. He made his bones building and operating a popular San Diego recording studio. As a recording artist, he's probably best known for Bunky, a duo project with Emily Joyce that seems like a one-off since it's been four years since their debut. Animal Feelings is Roberts' third full-length under the Rafter moniker, but it has less in common with previous albums than it does with 2008's Sweaty Magic EP. The earliest records were of the experimental "jam 19 tracks into 35 minutes" variety, but Sweaty Magic unveiled a sexed-up, wink-and-nudge R & B crooner persona that Roberts keeps going here. Like Jamie Lidell or Midnight Vultures-era Beck, Rafter has trouble avoiding the pitfalls that trip up that style. If a listener expends too much energy discerning the intent behind somewhat funky numbers like "A Frame" or the P-Funk-lite of "Feels Good," is there enough energy left to get booties on the dance floor? In other words, are the Afropopisms of the title track or "Never Gonna Die" irony or homage? The question might matter less if the songs were better and the grooves thicker. But they're mostly as thin as "Paper" — all surface and little substance. — Chris Drabick
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