REVIEW: Panda Bear – “Tomboy”

Panda Bear / Tomboy / Paw Tracks

When Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) opens Tomboy with the line “Know you can count on me”, in multiple-part harmony, before other voices and a collection of warmly familiar, laid back melodies drift in from far off sunny places – well, it’s pretty easy to believe him. On the following number, the title track, he leads listeners at a trotting pace away from the beach, deeper inland across mountain, desert and jungle. Some inorganic synth adds an ethnic-sounding flavour to the hypnotic aural massage of vocals permeating the track. “Friendship Bracelet” and “Afterburner” embark on similar journeys, using instruments to invoke a number of cultures and even the occasional wild animal.

But it wouldn’t be an Animal Collective-family album if it wasn’t at least partially difficult to listen to. There is a quite a bit of uncomfortable noise, mainly involving lengthy sections of repeated beats, vocal lines and effects – such as the strange “Mario Kart item selector” sound that can be heard throughout “Surfer’s Hymn”. The absolute sludgiest the atmosphere on Tomboy gets could be on “Last Night at the Jetty”, which alternates between being the simplest most straightforward track in the collection to the most experimental. The minimalist beat and ‘60s love ballad that open the track give way to a whirlpool of static and broken records. But it’s still an easier listen than Down There.

Download: “You Can Count On Me”, “Friendship Bracelet”

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