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Panda Bear - Tomboy

Panda Bear


(Paw Tracks)

Mystery in music is an important aspect that tends to be lost in this era full of instant Twitter updates and internet album leaks. Mystery makes the audience ponder. Psychedelic pop musician Panda Bear, the leader of electro-freak folk group Animal Collective—real name Noah Lennox—has managed to maintain his mystery for over a decade now, going so far as to relocate to the shores of Portugal, where one imagines him consuming hallucinogenic jellyfish on a beach in Lisbon or recording himself slowly clapping two chunks of wet rock together.

Of course, realistically, he is simply eating a bowl of cereal with his wife and two children listening to Brian Wilson records. Regardless, Lennox would probably like to keep us guessing. That is just what his latest album Tomboy does. Repetitive yet unpredictable, lazy but in your face, Tomboy is a study in sound and song with Lennox blurring the line that divides them with apparent ease. Four years after Person Pitch, his last solo full-length, the new album adds a level of accessibility to his umique, farout sound without dumbing it down. “Last Night at the Jetty” is a bouncing, Flaming Lips-like pop track that reassures the listener, “I know we had a good time.” “Surfer’s Hymn” swells with delicate ocean waves in the background balanced by heaving shakers in the foreground and a pillowy, four-on-the-floor kick drum.

Tomboy often builds on the repetitiveness of techno and dance music, but pairs that with massive, reverberated vocals, discernible pop structures, and a hypnotizing appeal that takes it beyond just interesting sound. The highlight is “Slow Motion,” which combines a hip-hop beat with mutant handclaps, bombastic snarls of sound, and liquid explosions, creating a lazy, brain-waving ride through an ethereal jungle. Equal parts song and soundscape, “Slow Motion” demands the listener pay attention to the multiplicity of influences inlaid. Lennox has brought together a melting pot of sounds and genres—from hip-hop and sharp electronic synthesizer to 1960s psychedelic pop with Beach Boys harmonies—paintings them all with the same color palette of hazy reverb, clacking, sun-soaked echoes and driving, repeating rhythms.

cory perla

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