Panda Bear releases new album
Noah Benjamin Lennox first began performing and recording music with friends as a teenager. Lennox recorded under the alias “Panda Bear,” mimicking the mammal that adorned the artwork for most of his recordings. As a musician, Lennox is most widely known for recording with close friends Deakin (Josh Dibb), Avey Tare (Dave Portner), and Geologist (Brian Witz) in the highly popular and experimental band Animal Collective. While Animal Collective has received a large amount of media attention since the 2007 release of its acclaimed record Strawberry Jam and the release of Merriweather Post Pavilion, which was named Fact Magazine’s “Best Album of 2009,” not enough has been said for Lennox’s work as an independent artist.
Born in Baltimore, Md., Lennox released his debut album Panda Bear on Soccer Star Records in 1998. Lennox took a break from recording his solo work to focus on touring and recording with Animal Collective, but released his second album, Young Prayer, in 2004. Lennox’s third album and 2007 release Person Pitch was his most acclaimed — it was named Pitchfork Media’s top album of 2007. Lennox’s fourth album, Tomboy, has only added to the presence of his solo project Panda Bear.
Despite the shorter song times, Tomboy is just as blissfully psychedelic as Panda Bear’s previous albums. With their dream-pop choirs and consistent synth bass beats, Lennox’s new tracks allow his angelic voice to shine. What is perhaps the most impressive about this album, however, is Lennox’s poetic lyrics, which exceed the lyrical quality of his previous albums.
The track “Last Night at the Jetty” mimics many of the waving rhythms that Animal Collective enthusiasts will find both familiar and rhythmically pleasing. That being said, Lennox’s album is not as unorganized as the work he has done with Animal Collective. This is especially evident in songs like “Drone” and “Slow Motion,” where the vocal tracks are smooth and spiritual and the instrumental tracks are stylistically church-like and musically accessible.
The album’s title track, “Tomboy,” is edgy and features an incredible use of production effects. The harmonies in “You Can Count on Me” mimic those of Fleet Foxes. The vocals are complicated and detailed, with several parts, echoes, and additional lines that make this song an incredibly hypnotizing opening track. “Surfer’s Hymn” is the most beach-pop of all the songs, as appropriately represented by its title. The song develops in waves, again a characteristic that most likely led the to track’s naming.
The album’s longest track, “Afterburner,” is an evolutionary track — growing and growing in detail with each second. The album ends with “Benfica,” a song that does not truly develop until its last minute, when it slows and breaks down into a beautiful and deliberate arrangement of chimes and bells.
If you find yourself curious for some new music or craving the unfamiliarity of a new and experimental genre, then be sure to pick up this album. Tomboy could arguably be one of the best experimental albums of the year.