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Alternative & Indie - Released January 12, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
As Panda Bear, Animal Collective member Noah Lennox's solo work patiently evolved from early folk jumble to the transcendent, sample-based bliss of 2007's Person Pitch to the weighty, darker minimalism of 2011's Tomboy. With fifth album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, Lennox offers up a collection of songs that bring together the best aspects of his intensely personal, slow-motion journey through sound, feeling sharper, more deliberate, and more positive than at any point prior. While Person Pitch's mesh of melody and texture was revelational, the stew of samples, reverb, and vocal layering could get a little fuzzy around the edges. Same went for the sometimes gloomy murk of Tomboy, an album whose emotional core still sometimes felt vague even after the usual sonic clutter had been stripped away. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper sidesteps both of these issues, coming on as strong as Lennox's most composed pop songs with Animal Collective. By this point in his discography, Panda Bear's trademark sounds are well-established and immediately recognizable even from the first strains of album-opener "Sequential Circuits." Equal parts simple synth drones and jarring, animal-like sound effects serve as the unlikely backdrop for layers of Lennox's distinctive self-harmonizing vocals, always heavy on Beach Boys influence but developed by now into something all their own. When things lean more toward rhythmic electro-pop, catchy, pounding grooves like "Mr Noah," or the stumbling, Dilla-indebted beat of "Latin Boys," offer all the clarity and hookiness of Merriweather Post Pavilion-era Animal Collective hits like "My Girls." Repetition has always been a fascination for Lennox, be it the influence of minimal techno or experimentation with phasing inspired by 20th century composers like Steve Reich. Repetition coagulates nicely with watery synth grooves on album highlight "Come to Your Senses," with the lyrics "Are you mad?", repeating in a mantra-like chant until the listener has no choice but to consider the various, different interpretations of this simple three-word question. Even in the darker moments of the album, PBMTGR has an inherent lightheartedness which was sorely missed on the occasionally world-weary or frightened-sounding Tomboy. Tunes like "Tropic of Cancer" (built around a Christmas-time harp sample that sounds both heavenly and corny) and "Lonely Wanderer" are softly sad, but retain a certain optimism and wistfulness that could sometimes get lost on the more crooning, thoughtful moments of previous albums. Striking a balance between hypnotic pop and cloudy soul-searching, the album delivers all the ends of the spectrum Lennox has spent years perfecting, giving fully realized and refreshingly jubilant examples of a type of pop music so distinctive to its creator, he ends up in a class by himself. ~ Fred Thomas
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 8, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Over the course of 20 years of work, Noah Lennox cultivated a musical identity that was unmistakably his own. Under the name Panda Bear, Lennox pushed boundaries with both the colorfully saturated sample collages of his 2007 solo album, Person Pitch, and the psychedelic tangle of electronics and warped guitars on Animal Collective's 2009 watershed, Merriweather Post Pavilion. These were definitive albums for both Lennox and independent music-making at large, and he continued to look for new angles on his maxed-out sounds with successive albums. Buoys, Lennox's sixth Panda Bear full-length, takes his sonic construction to new places by stripping away some of the layers that had become commonplace. Instead of the usual stacks of samples, sparkling harmonies, and tumbling loops, much of Buoys is built around a backbone of spare acoustic guitar. Other elements fill space minimally, with a tendency towards deep bass, sparse drum programming, and auto-tuned vocal phrases. Producer Rusty Santos joins Lennox again for the first time since their work together on Person Pitch, and there's a familiarity to their chemistry. Santos engineered Animal Collective's acoustic, folk-leaning 2004 breakthrough, Sung Tongs, and the lilting fingerpicked arpeggios of "Token" and the slowly unfolding chord progression of "Inner Monologue" recall the dreamy, wandering feeling of that album. With the nine songs on this relatively short album, its creators looked to music popular among younger demographics of the time, informing the production with hints taken from modern rap and pop of the late 2010s. The skeletal arrangements and auto-tuned vocals might have some commonalities with certain mainstream productions, but the approach is unique. A beat made up of steady hi-hats and a grating water droplet sample open up "Dolphin," but with the first downstroke of fluttering acoustic guitar and easy notes of Lennox's falsetto croon, any similarities to modern production end. Though Buoys is by far the most spacious work in Panda Bear's catalog since the acoustic ether of 2004's Young Prayer, there's an emotional complexity that's inextricable from Lennox's work that occupies space in even his most minimal compositions. Complex ruminations on death and family have been at the core of Panda Bear's work from the start, and those themes continue here. "Master" delivers its optimistic lines gently, like a parent speaking patiently to a child, and album closer "Home Free" wades through waves of delay as Lennox sounds like he's running from the inevitable passage of time. The irony here is that Panda Bear's work with sampling, repetition, and watery soundscapes might have had more of an influence than he knows on the type of production Buoys is seeking to emulate. Though the album is a step in a different direction, the path might be circular, leading back to where he began. The relatively empty arrangements take a few listens to latch on, but their openness showcases Lennox's gifts for honest, fearless songwriting. Try as he may to embrace external influences, Panda Bear remains inescapably himself. ~ Fred Thomas

Alternative & Indie - Released January 14, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 3, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 12, 2016 | My Animal Home

With its dense layers of music and found sounds, Panda Bear's Person Pitch became an indie rock standard-bearer almost immediately after its release. Trying to top it would be a daunting task, and on Tomboy, Noah Lennox doesn’t attempt it. Instead, he strips away the samples that made Person Pitch so hallucinatory and focuses on guitars, drums, and emotive melodies. A few found sounds make their way into the bookends “You Can Count on Me” and the beatific “Benfica,” giving the impression that Tomboy picks up right where Person Pitch left off, but the album’s overall sound is much sparer: the aptly named “Drone” and the smoky “Scheherazade” are downright minimalistic compared to what came before. Yet Tomboy is just as dreamy and hypnotic in its own way, with Lennox's familiarly looping melodies and structures coated in so much reverb and delay that an intricate collage of samples isn’t necessary to make these songs transporting. “Friendship Bracelet” is more than trippy enough as it flutters by on naïve electronics, while “Slow Motion” is submerged in dub-inspired effects and keyboards. Unlike Person Pitch's immersive miasma of sound, Tomboy takes a more song-based approach to Lennox's fondness for Brian Wilson harmonies and melodies. “Last Night at the Jetty” is a wistful, lysergic slow dance, surrounding vocals that could grace a Four Freshmen ballad with heady swirls of guitar; “Surfer’s Hymn” is a reconfigured teenage symphony that sounds like a memory of summer. Lennox recorded Tomboy in a basement studio in Lisbon, Portugal, and the album reflects those surroundings, providing a moody cocoon of sound to retreat into instead of Person Pitch's expansiveness. A feeling of loss often shadows these songs, and there’s a newfound sense of urgency, particularly on “Tomboy” and the fittingly soaring “Afterburner.” Meanwhile “Alsatian Darn,” which begins with chilly, ballad-like verses that warm into choruses that sound like an underwater folk dance, shows just how much more Lennox can do with less. Despite Tomboy's significant changes, it feels less like a radical shift than a subtle progression; while it may not be quite as dazzling as Person Pitch, it should still please fans of that album and Lennox’s many other outlets. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 20, 2007 | My Animal Home

The radical evolution of Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear's sound over the course of his solo catalog is inextricable from the concordant developments happening with his collaborations in Animal Collective. Both entities shifted gears quickly from album to album, but the wildly different places Lennox would take his experiments truly found a voice of their own with Person Pitch, his 2007 quilt work of samples, textures, and unprecedented explorations of joy and sorrow. The same jittery campfire folk-psych that Animal Collective perfected on 2004's Sung Tongs spilled over onto Panda Bear's cloudy acoustic ruminations on his solo album Young Prayer, released later that same year. By the time of 2005's Feels, Animal Collective had morphed into their own feral take on a more traditional rock band, acoustic guitars and wilderness noises traded in for drums, processed guitars, and blissed-out vocal loops. This straightforward approach made Person Pitch feel all the more out of left field, with Lennox deftly constructing the album almost entirely from carefully mapped-out samples, minimal beats, and endless layers of his own reverb-saturated vocal harmonies. The divergence from band playing toward electronic composition would inform and influence a huge swath of indie rock that came after, with Animal Collective themselves catching up to Panda's electronic leanings by the time of their high-water mark, 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though comprising just seven tracks, not a second of time is wasted over the course of Person Pitch. From the loop of clapping that brings "Comfy in Nautica" into focus to the gentle guitar chords and steady kick-drum pulse of album closer "Ponytail," each sound is economical and deliberate. Lennox's gift here is assembling small sounds to create a bigger picture. "Take Pills" builds its rhythm from interlocking samples of scraping skateboard wheels and an anonymous oldies radio loop before walls of Beach Boys-esque harmonies come in on top. The song goes on to a second half made up of a bouncing, skeletal bassline and more waves of harmonies, occasional sound effects of distant atom bombs, screeching animals, and splashing puddles all culminating in a blurry pastiche that seconds as a perfect pop song. This is also true of album centerpiece "Bros," a 12-minute collage of chiming guitar arpeggios, stony vocal harmonies, hooting owls, and phasing loops that fade in and out of each other. More electronic impulses are blended into the respective grooves of two-parter "Good Girl/Carrots," while hazy tape manipulation, wordless vocal loops, and soft noise make up the more ambient "Search for Delicious." Disarmingly simple, perfectly metered, and striking in both its playfulness and vulnerability, Person Pitch stood as a perfectly executed statement for Lennox, and in at least some circles of indie rock, a musical revelation. ~ Fred Thomas
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Electronic/Dance - Released August 21, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Swiftly following Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, Noah Lennox's most direct, straightforward collection of songs yet, the Crosswords EP continues in much the same direction, with his reverb-doused Mike Love-ly vocals pleasantly floating over bubbly, lightly funky electronic rhythms. The EP's title track is barely altered from its LP version, replacing some of the more growling synth textures with trippier ones. More exciting are the kicking beats and smeared, messy noises of "No Mans Land," as well as the lush, swooping synths of "Jabberwocky." Closing track "Cosplay" deviates from the rest of the songs, slowing the tempo down to a trudge and repeating the lyrics "marijuana makes my day" over slightly creepy whistling synth sounds. The tune seems like it should be the most relaxed one of the bunch, but somehow there's a bit of a dark, unsettling tinge to it. Crosswords is essentially outtakes from PBVSGR (with one cut left over from Tomboy), and while it's clearly more of the same, it's an enjoyable, compact dose of chilled, effervescent electro-psych-pop, and it functions as a handy reminder of how far Lennox has come as a songwriter. ~ Paul Simpson

Alternative & Indie - Released January 14, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 8, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 15, 2014 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 24, 2014 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released June 29, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Pop - Released March 28, 2011 | Paw Tracks

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Pop - Released December 13, 2010 | Paw Tracks

Alternative & Indie - Released February 3, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Composed and recorded following the death of Panda Bear's father, it is perhaps no surprise that Young Prayer comes off as a musical eulogy. But it is nothing like a wild outpouring of emotion. There is no tearing of hair or gnashing of teeth here. Rather, the short album is a restrained lamentation, a controlled elegiac mediation on the death of a loved one. The grief has settled in to stay, and it is reflected upon from a slight distance now. Panda Bear wordlessly but somberly moans in a falsetto through much of the album, setting a mood of crystalline bereavement. Descending vocal arpeggios echo through hollow halls, while erratic but tunefully strummed guitar and loose, mantra-like piano playing maintain an ethereal fragility. The most upbeat of the nine untitled songs is a hand-clapping, foot-stomping chant-in-the-round that ends the A side. A song that, despite it's relative joyousness compared to the rest of the album, still recalls a funeral march more than a hootenanny. Young Prayer, however, isn't a morbid work. It seems to come from the point of view of acceptance, and can be seen as the sober and mournful flipside to the hyperactively gleeful Sung Tongs. ~ Jason Nickey

Alternative & Indie - Released January 16, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released May 1, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released March 3, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2004 | My Animal Home

Composed and recorded following the death of Panda Bear's father, it is perhaps no surprise that Young Prayer comes off as a musical eulogy. But it is nothing like a wild outpouring of emotion. There is no tearing of hair or gnashing of teeth here. Rather, the short album is a restrained lamentation, a controlled elegiac mediation on the death of a loved one. The grief has settled in to stay, and it is reflected upon from a slight distance now. Panda Bear wordlessly but somberly moans in a falsetto through much of the album, setting a mood of crystalline bereavement. Descending vocal arpeggios echo through hollow halls, while erratic but tunefully strummed guitar and loose, mantra-like piano playing maintain an ethereal fragility. The most upbeat of the nine untitled songs is a hand-clapping, foot-stomping chant-in-the-round that ends the A side. A song that, despite it's relative joyousness compared to the rest of the album, still recalls a funeral march more than a hootenanny. Young Prayer, however, isn't a morbid work. It seems to come from the point of view of acceptance, and can be seen as the sober and mournful flipside to the hyperactively gleeful Sung Tongs. ~ Jason Nickey
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Pop - Released September 2, 2008 | Paw Tracks

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Panda Bear in the magazine