Panda Bear: Tomboy
Bear, or his group Animal Collective; it’s because – like a panda – he loiters
alone when not putting on a show for gawking spectators. You won’t find his
name plastered just anywhere. With his fashion designer wife and young
daughter, the Baltimore native lives a simple and comfortable life in Portugal.
Or so he would have you think.
His last solo album Person Pitch gathered remarkable
critical acclaim in 2007. Two years later, Animal Collective released an album
whose success shouldn’t be measured by its absence from mainstream knowledge,
but by its respectable chart success, consistent favourable reviews and
dominance of ‘Best of 2009’ lists. With a sound unlike anything that came
before it, Merriweather Post Pavilion was one of the most critically
acclaimed albums of that year; hailed for its originality, imagination and
So two years on from that success, Lennox has released Tomboy, his
fourth solo album. A victim of
a relentless pursuit for perfection, the album release was delayed for almost six months. During that time, band mate Avey Tare passed the Cairo360
test, receiving a very reputable four-star recommendation for his album Down
There last October. This has all
served to make Tomboy one of the most anticipated records of this still
relatively young year.
More so than Merriweather Post Pavillion, the most
comparable sound to Tomboy is a novel
hybrid between The Beachboys and Bjork. ‘Last Night at the Jetty’ is an apt
example of this with its vividly melodic harmonies. The flipside is that it almost
certainly comes from too far left field for some listeners.
Each song descends with a new mantra and a new trance; you
can do pretty much anything to this album. Dance to ‘Alsatian Darn’, air guitar
to title track ‘Tomboy’, or even meditate to ‘Scheherazade’. Given its eclectic
spirit, the best touches of the album might pass you at first listen. Given
time, though; you will discover poetry-tinted lyrics, and small inflections and
sounds that remind you that it really is the small things that count.
Comparable it is, but it isn’t the least bit derivative; it’s
the Panda Bear sound. This album is so smooth in its flow that you have no
choice but to surrender yourself to it. Though the vocal arrangements are
intricate and well-thought-out, they translate into very simple and catchy
accessibilities of a higher mind.