Panda Bear | Tomboy
Alternative culture is vast and pregnant with new direction. If we could presumptuously refer to ourselves as a “whole,” as a “generation,” for a moment, consider that we will be remembered one day. Like it or not, we’re all going to fall into some much more aware person from the future’s category of what we were once. So for the prime time displays of our youth, who do we send on the field first? We can be certain of one thing: Noah Lennox will be remembered as someone whose work meant something to a lot of people.
Person Pitch was and continues to be ubiquitous. No matter what a person’s region or societal subdivision, it was an album that anyone could listen to without even the slightest fear of ever having to justify it to someone else. The right elements of broad and credible appeal were present in just the right amounts, but it also harbored a visceral subtext that bound it all together. The hint of fury is what makes Person Pitch compelling. It is also what keeps it from completely falling apart.
Tomboy makes this element even more subtle, buries it deeper under the sound-crowd. Evolving on this type of path is difficult to say the least. It takes a steady hand and clear vision to accomplish and the good news is that Tomboy is evidence of this accomplishment… mostly.
Panda Bear is still Panda Bear. Diehards and potheads rejoice! You are still invited back to your tour of Lennox’s gothic sandcastle – everything is just as you remembered it, save for the addition of new rooms with better views. The wall of voice, a Panda Bear specialty, has never loomed higher or sounded more exotic.
Its partner in orchestration, however, has begun to exhibit a slight tendency towards fucking the whole thing up. When every song centers (either consciously or otherwise) on the voice, it is up to the music to sell it the rest of the way (even Bocelli is best with a chamber ensemble). This is what used to provide a sense of strength underlining the identity of Panda Bear.
Tomboy, however, is riddled with examples of the two being at odds. Compare a success, like album closer “Beneficia,” with one like “Afterburner.” In the case of the former, you have a brilliant combination of the solid and the serene, like a Gregorian chant sung in the style of Brian Wilson. But before this moment of clarity, the listener must endure the grating pulse of “Afterburner,” a song by Gang Gang Dance sung in the style of meth.
Usually this would end with me talking some shit about how the highs are so high that they make the lows even lower, but we’ve all heard critics before. For the sake of developing the art of the album review, I’ll form my closing statement in the form of a haiku:
oh, Noah Lennox,
keep driving us north, don’t stop
Listen to “Last Night at the Jetty” by Panda Bear:
[audio:http://www.paw-tracks.com/jetty.mp3|artists=Panda Bear|titles=Last Night at the Jetty]