For Panda Bear to reach a wider audience there needed to be an album that was less experimental and more aesthetically easy on the ear. This in no way suggests that the artist should have released music purely to cater for the mainstream (that’s simply selling out) but instead to let the unaware general public experience a truly talented musician.
2007’s ‘Person Pitch’ and 2011’s ‘Tomboy’ are both well respected albums and each critically acclaimed but it’s Noah Lennox’s – aka Panda Bear – new LP ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’ that seems to be the most approachable. The aforementioned experimentation is kept to a minimum with the programmed drumming and occasion sample being the only real areas of tinkering.
The artist’s fifth album provides genuine moments of beauty and more obvious melodies, which may have been lost on other releases. ‘Tropic of Cancer’ is the perfect example. Lennox cleverly introduces warmth and a feeling of utter contentment by combining a harp, delicate vocals and minimal instrumentation. It’s awash with feelings and emotion that carry through to ‘Lonely Wanderer’, where this time the harp is replaced by delicate piano, still maintaining an almost overwhelming sense of tranquillity.
The album obviously doesn’t only cater for fans of the low to medium beats per minute though. With ‘Boys Latin’ and ‘Mr Noah’ you’re given wonderful ascending and descending vocal arrangements and a more up-lifting experience. The latter also contains a clever sample of howling dogs that works perfectly with the tracks hardened drums; it’s a really clever piece of production that makes it one of the LP’s stand-out tracks.
The ‘Animal Collective’ man has pulled together thirteen tracks that extensively contain processed instrumentation. However, this isn’t a cold or run-of-the-mill release. It embraces idea’s and production values from all of Lennox’s previous releases but has a more polished feel to it. It really is a ‘coming of age’ LP from the 36 year old artist.