Avey Tare Credit: Atiba Jefferson

There’s a sly bit of metaphor employed on “Melody Unfair,” a tune from Eucalyptus (Domino), the wonderful second album by Animal Collective charter member Dave Portner, aka Avey Tare. As he sings, “She crept up to my front door / Rang the bell and now she’s leaving,” he personifies a beguiling quality in his music, where catchiness is present but elusive. That sort of slipperiness can be maddening in romantic contexts; here it pulses at the heart of things. On Eucalyptus, the arrangements are generous and rich, but the songs are executed with more concision than on Portner’s 2010 solo debut, Down There, which was often lumpy and unfocused. Early on, when various Animal Collective songs displayed similar inattention, it sometimes seemed a product of the work being half finished, yet here Portner creates a delicious tension. That sensation is heightened by gorgeously hazy arrangements shaped by contributions from a stellar group of musicians, including the lovely vocal harmonies of Angel Deradoorian and the woozy pedal steel of Susan Alcorn. Portner’s lyrics are more direct than usual, addressing topics that feel personal and lived-in, such as a failed romance or a touching encounter with a lost friend. While some passages drift, the music even at its most unmoored feels like part of a larger design, and when the focus snaps back it ends up hitting harder than before. I’ll admit I’ve lost some connection with Animal Collective as it’s reached for a larger audience, but with ­Eucalyptus Avey Tare has reminded me of everything I ever loved about the group in one powerful swoop.